Lia Surprise Squad helps Feeding Hills family following fire - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Lia Surprise Squad helps Feeding Hills family following fire

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(Western Mass News photo) (Western Mass News photo)
AGAWAM, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -

Tonight, we're meet the Briggs, a Feeding Hills family that recently lost their home to a devastating fire. 

Tommy Briggs grew up in the house and worked hard to purchase it for his wife, Gina, and their two children.  

Our Western Mass News and Lia Auto Group Surprise Squad joined Tommy at the scene, where he's finding memories in the rubble, in this week's emotional Surprise Squad. 

At 11:09 on the morning of Tuesday, March 20, Gina Briggs called 911 to report her house on fire

"Right after pancakes and getting ready to get in the shower is when I noticed smoke coming from the front window," Gina Briggs explained.

Western Mass News was on the scene as smoke covered Red Fox Drive in Feeding Hills.

Luckily, Gina, Tommy, and their two children: Antoinette, 3, and Savino, 18 months, all made it out safely - along with their cat and dog. 

"I thought it was just gonna be let's stand on the lawn and get the fire extinguisher and put it out," Gina said.

However, the garage, house, and both cars were fully engulfed, along with the family's memories, including Tommy's, which date back to his childhood.

"I always wanted to live in that home," Tommy explained.

Gina added, "He loved it when he grew up, so I want my children to ride their bikes on a quiet street with other little kids."

The damage caused by the blaze was not the fix the Briggs were planning for.

"I was like okay, I'm fine with that.  I'm fine with the kitchen and refrigerator, but not the bedrooms, not my clothes, not my children's nurseries and other memories and baby things.  When you go inside, it's disgusting," Gina added. 

The Lia Auto Group Surprise Squad went with Tommy to see the aftermath.

"All my kids bikes and mine were hung up here.  My daughter's Frozen bike," Tommy said, adding, "I was just kicking stuff around trying to find anything that has memories.  For instance, I missed that, but I found it.  That's Antoinette on the beach when she was one.  Look at that, it was right there. This is why I come back everyday."

Inside, Tommy walks us through the rubble.  Everything is covered in black soot from top to bottom. 

Back at the Briggs temporary home, the real reason we were there is because Toni nominated the family for the Surprise Squad.

"I know how much this house means to him.  My aunt died here and when they put it up for sale, he bought it, so it would stay in the family," Toni explained.

We were able to surprise Tommy and Gina with their wedding photo, in a frame.  It was actually firefighters gave back after the blaze.

The Surprise Squad wasn't done there.

We got a new convertible crib for Savino, as well dance shoes, leotards, toys, and a tablet.

Small gestures that can't replace the memories scorched in the fire

The smoke and ash are not masking the bigger picture of a strong family going through a hard loss, on top of more recent heartbreaking news.

"[I have to say you guys are in just high spirits considering...]  It's just stuff.  It's our faith...it's that and my wife was diagnosed with thyroid cancer two days ago, so there's way more to this than this stuff," Tommy said.

"I got her out and I got those two kids out and I got my pets out and I gained a bunch of friends," Tommy said.

On April 22nd, a benefit is being held for the Briggs. Learn more about that by clicking here

If you know someone deserving of a visit from the Lia Auto Group Surprise Squad, email surprisesquad@westernmassnews.com. 

Copyright 2018 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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