Local firefighter saves his own home

John Briaddy, a driver for the Tupper Lake Fire Department, fights a fire at his own home on Thursday morning before three more departments and the rest of the TLFVD showed up to help extinguish the blaze. (Provided photo — Minda Briaddy)

SANTA CLARA — A member of the Tupper Lake Volunteer Fire Department fought a fire at his own home Thursday morning, saving the structure. His wife, who began volunteering with the Red Cross earlier this week, says she’s now on the receiving end of the organization’s aid.

John and Minda Briaddy’s volunteerism helped save their home Thursday and Minda says their friends and family are helping them on the long road to recovery.

Minda said John has volunteered as a fireman for his whole adult life.

“All this preparation he’s done his whole entire life saved his own house,” she said. “If my husband … hadn’t become active in the fire department and been trained on how to drive that truck, I don’t know what would have happened.”

Fighting a fire at home

Minda said her son Jimmy was going to the school bus when he noticed smoke coming from their roof on state Route 30. She made two calls — one to 911 and one to John. John was at work in Saranac Lake, but came back and suited up. He drives the only fire truck at the TLVFD substation in Santa Clara — which is half a mile down the road from their house — so he was able to start fighting the flames before any of the other firefighters got to the scene.

“He pulled the old girl into our driveway and started going to town,” Minda said. “It was amazing to watch.”

It wasn’t long until there were four fire departments there to knock down the flames. Minda said within 20 minutes, the road was filled with firefighters putting on their gear.

“It was a great stop!” John said in an email. “We are so grateful to all the firefighters, EMT & State Police that came.”

Tupper Lake firefighters from the village were dispatched out at 7:49 a.m. and brought three trucks. The Saranac Lake Volunteer Fire Department brought a tanker and manpower to the scene. The Paul Smiths-Gabriels Volunteer Fire Department sent members and the Piercefield Volunteer Fire Department sent an engine and manpower to the Tupper Lake firehouse to cover for the village.

“We would not have been able to stop this fire so quickly if not for that truck and volunteers here in Santa Clara, Tupper Lake, Saranac Lake, Paul Smith Gabriel’s … and Piercefield,” John wrote.

In all, they used around 3,000 gallons of water to extinguish the blaze.

Minda said their wood pellet stove was out but is believed to be where the fire originated.

She and her son watched the firefighters battle the blaze from across the street.

“I said, ‘Jimmy … we’re going to lose our house today,'” Minda said. “‘And it’s OK because we have each other. All this other stuff can be rebuilt.'”

Substation save

The Santa Clara substation of the TLVFD is only a couple years old. It opened in 2016.

There’s a triangle-shaped swath of land in the less-populated Santa Clara/Saranac Inn area where homes are far away from the Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake and Paul Smiths fire department stations. This was the exact sort of fire the Santa Clara substation was opened for.

“It literally saved our house,” Minda said.

Homeless for a few hours

The Briaddy’s home is a long house, so Minda said while one end doesn’t have walls anymore, the damage was contained and the smoke smell in the other end is not too severe.

“Two bedrooms have water damage and most of the damage is in attic,” John wrote.

Minda said Pastor Bruce McCulley from High Peaks Church, which they attend, came over and helped clean out the bedroom.

“Our entire master bedroom is in our backyard,” she said.

They can’t live there right now and it will be months until they can repair it.

Minda said they have a place to stay for the weekend but they’ll need an apartment in the Saranac Lake Central School District for a family of three with a dog and a cat to rent for up to a year while their home is under repair.

For now, their dog is at a doggy day care and their cat is with a friend.

Community help

The Briaddys have spent much of their lives giving and providing for others.

The couple has fostered eight children in the past three years, up until Mindy was diagnosed with stage four cancer. They have an adopted son.

Mindy became a volunteer with the Red Cross earlier this week.

“I called my director and I was like, ‘You’re never going to believe this. I need your help,'” she said.

The Red Cross provides moral, housing, resource and financial support when homes catch fire, she said.

Minda also said they have good support system through High Peaks Church.

Minda has lived in the area for 22 years and John moved here eight years ago. They’ve lived in their house for three years. Their neighbor down the road was another TLVFD member dispatched to the fire and they had friends who brought lunch by for them.

“We’re in shock,” Mindy said.

Now, she said, they’re preparing to recover.

“When it comes time to rebuild and put this house back together we’ll have a big ol’ party,” she said.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *

Starting at $4.75/week.

Subscribe Today