By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to AllOTSEGO.com
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.”