Mario Carnavale went out for a jog on Saturday, Jan. 7, not knowing he would soon become a hero for the Waltham Public Schools.
Carnevale, a 16-year Waltham resident, was running by the when he suddenly smelled smoke.
“I thought it was car on fire, that’s the kind of smell it was,” he told Waltham Patch in an interview. “I could smell a small stream of smoke coming form the school.”
Carnevale, who was not carrying a cell phone at the time, ran to a woman in a nearby car and asked her to report the blaze to authorities.
The woman, he said, agreed to call authorities, but still, Carenevale ran back to his home and called 911, just to be sure the incident was reported.
Firefighters quickly contained the blaze and school opened on Monday. Cleaning crews mopped up the water and smoke damage the fire caused.
In the two weeks since the fire, Carnevale, a geologist, remained out of the spotlight, but last night, the Waltham School Committee honored him for reporting the fire to authorities, which officials said averted a disaster.
“Thank you very much … you really did save the day,” said School Committee member Ed Tarallo.
In a soft-spoken tone, Carnevale told the committee he appreciated that his efforts had been recognized. Carenvale plans to take a tour of the school soon and eat lunch with some of its students, according to Waltham Public School Superintendent Susan Nicholson.
“You deserve the recognition,” she told Carenevale.
The Waltham Fire Department is , and school officials are assessing the solar panel system that was associated with the fire. Nobody was injured in the blaze.