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Oneonta Fireman

Died Saving Kids,

Sister-in-Law Says

Erika Heller posted this photo of her brother-in-law, John Heller, on Facebook as she described how the former Oneonta firefighter sacrificed his life to get her sons and his fiancee, Amber, to safety when the fire broke out at his Walling Avenue home.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to

Heller became trapped on the upper floor of 5 Walling Ave. after helping his nephews and his fiance escape the fire. (Ian Austin/

ONEONTA – John Heller, the former Oneonta firefighter who died when his home at 5 Walling Ave. caught fire Saturday morning, was trapped while helping his fiancee and his nephews escape the blaze, his sister-in-law reported.

“What began as a fun sleepover with their uncle John and soon-to-be aunt Amber turned into a nightmare,” Erika Heller, his sister-in-law, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday morning. “He died because he did everything he could to make sure that his fiancee and my sons were out of the home safely.

“They were completely trapped in the top floor of the building,” she wrote. “Once he had them all out on the fire escape, he was unable to get out.”

The cause of the fire is yet unknown.

“He and Amber are my heroes,” Heller wrote. “They saved my babies and he made the ultimate sacrifice for our family.”


1 Comment

  1. John made the ultimate sacrifice to save those he loved. He left us as a hero and should be remembered as one.

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