In the early hours of March 13th, a fortunate series of events prevented a huge tragedy at the historic Paradox House in Severance when a fire broke out in the property's heating unit. First responders were able to save this beautiful home from almost certain destruction.
Owners Merritt Hulst and Analise Rigan share their experience here, in a letter to all of those who raced to the scene, risked their lives and helped extinguished the blaze.
"You were an important part of that outcome. For this, we are deeply grateful. On this stormy night of steady snow, sub-freezing temps and wind gusts said to be 30-50mph, the conditions could not have been much worse. The wind driven air was biting with cold and driveways everywhere still buried in about a foot of accumulating snow and wind drifts, making access to this house challenging. Sometime around 12:30am, these wind gusts apparently coaxed into flames the ash already removed from an external building that houses our chip burning heating unit. The small structure was already well into blaze when we were awakened.
Losing this structure and our primary heating source is of course undesirable, but minimal in comparison to the loss of this large old house that Great-Grandfather built in the 1890’s. Our terror was in watching those wind driven flames and sparks rapidly progressing towards the house. We understood that Paradox House was in grave danger, and the conditions were not on our side.
The quick, effective and disciplined responses of our area first responders were entirely impressive. Trooper Marsha was arriving about as quickly as we made it down the stairs and outside. We appreciated her care and offering of her warmed vehicle to wait in, but we were too stressed at that time to sit still.
Only moments later, Ken Hedden of the SLFD was arriving to prep the way for the responders to come, which seemed to be only a matter of minutes later. An already in progress event involving a downed power line a few miles away had the first firefighting vehicle and crew close by. Our guess is that they had the water on the flames about 5 minutes from the 911 call! From our perspective -- having watched the flames spread alarmingly fast in those first minutes -- this timing of events was simply a miracle.
Shortly following, additional trucks and crews from Schroon Lake and North Hudson arrived. And within the hour, Fire Investigator Joseph Norton from Crown Point was on the scene. For the volume of responders that ventured out on this stormy night, your knowledge, team work and expressions of personal interest in saving this house have warmed us deeply. You, your dedication (and incredible equipment!) are professional, impressive, and a genuine gift for this community.
In protecting this large old house from imminent tragedy, you have each saved a piece of this community’s history.
In the few days since, Merritt and I have been focused more on our good fortune than the structural losses of this small out-building and heating unit. For your service, we are
In Deepest Gratitude,
Merritt Hulst & Analise Rigan