High school mentor remembers fallen Buffalo firefighter Jason Arno

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Investigators are working around the clock to figure out what sparked the tragic Main Street fire in Buffalo. As they work we’re starting to learn more about the firefighter killed in that blaze — Jason Arno.

“We heard the sirens when they first started, we could see the flames, we could see the smoke from right here at St. Michael,” said Rev. Frederick Betti, SJ, associate pastor, St. Michael Church. “So you know that a lot of people are in danger.”

Father Frederick Betti of St. Michael Church rushed to the scene of the enormous Main Street fire as soon as heard those sirens.

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Amidst the chaos, he was struck by one thing…

“As someone who taught in high schools for so many years, as I’m looking in the faces of these firefighters I’m seeing so many young men and women like Jay,” Fr. Betti said. “That age group and saying ‘my god, these are the people that are saving us, that give their lives for us.'”

Father Betti served for 14 years as director of campus ministry at Canisius High School.

He would soon learn one of his former students, 37-year-old Jason Arno, died battling that fire.

“Thinking about his life, thinking about the type of man he was, that idea of being a man for others,” added Fr. Betti. “That really for me captured the idea of how he lived that. Since we walked him through the blue doors of Canisius High School on his graduation day and he went out to the world. He did that as a man for others, as a friend, as a son, as a brother, as a husband, as a father and as a firefighter for our city.”

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Father Betti started his Canisius career in Arno’s senior year.

He witnessed his character firsthand during service projects.

“Just full of life, full of energy, full of laughter and always a guy going out there for being with others. So I mean, that was his personality, I think. Family was very important to him, so I can why his immediate family now, his wife, his child. He must have been an awesome husband and father because he just had that personality.”

A candle now flickers inside St. Michael Church in memory of Jason Arno — a man for others.

Rev. Frederick Betti, SJ reads firefighter prayer:

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Patrick Ryan is an award-winning reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 2020. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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