12-year-old boy’s quick thinking likely saved his home from burning down

By Ralph Echtinaw

City council recognized 12-year-old Bradynn Overla Tuesday for quick thinking Jan. 4 when a fire broke out in the basement of his home on southwest corner of Teman and Olive.

Bradynn was home in late afternoon that day watching his younger brother Braxtynn until his mother Diana came home from work. Bradynn had finished restringing a fishing pole in the basement and returned upstairs to heat pizza for himself and his brother.

As the pizza was cooking in the toaster oven, Bradynn smelled smoke. At first he thought he was burning the pizza, but that wasn’t it. Bradynn investigated and saw smoke coming from a floor vent. He then opened the basement and was met with black smoke.

Bradynn Overla is all smiles as he wears the souvenir helmet the firefighters gave to him.

Bradynn then closed the door, told his brother to leave the house and went outside himself along with the family dog.  He had the presence of mind to bring a cell phone with him and called his mother. Getting no answer he then dialed 911 at 5:07 p.m.

He answered the dispatcher’s questions, and a call went out to the St. Louis Area Fire Department. First responders arrived at 5:10 p.m. and put the fire out. 

Fire Chief Bill Coty said the blaze was determined to be an electrical fire. “Thanks to his communication with central dispatch we new coming in that we had a basement fire,” he added. “Firefighters made a quick arrival, entry and extinguishment. The fire caused relatively minor damage.”

Bradynn and his mother credit his quick actions to training he received during Fire Prevention Months in the three schools he has attended to date (Carrie Knause, Nikkari and the middle school).

The fire department and Gratiot County Central Dispatch Authority gave Bradynn a Young Hero Life-Saving Award for his actions, though it’s likely he was more pleased with the autographed firefighter helmet they presented to him Tuesday.

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