News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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Oneonta Fire Department

Fire Damages Back Porch, Kitchen Of Oneonta Home

Four Fire Companies Save House

Fire Damages Back Porch,

Kitchen Of Oneonta Home

Oneonta Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon was called to to the scene of a house fire on Winney Hill Road. Though the fire damaged the back porch and kitchen, the house itself was spared. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – A fire at a home on Winney Hill Road in Oneonta started on the back porch and spread into the kitchen, but fire companies were able to put it out before it consumed the whole house, Oneonta Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon reported.

According to Pidgeon, the fire at the house on 290 Winney Hill Road, a neighbor called in the fire, which started on the back porch at 5:16 p.m. Oneonta, West Oneonta, Franklin and Franklin FAST were on the scene, with Otego and Laurens Fire and EMS squads on  standby and for coverage, and fire fighters quickly knocked the fire down.

Firefighters Resuscitate Cat After Oneonta Apartment Fire

Firefighters Resuscitate Cat

At Oneonta Apartment Fire

Oneonta fire fighters responded to a fire at the Mayrose Apartments on Lewis Avenue this evening. One resident, Matt Baker, was treated for smoke inhalation, and his cat, Oreo, was rescued from the fire and resuscitated with oxygen at the scene.

By JENNIFER HILL • Special To ALLOTSEGO.com

Oreo is resting comfortably after Oneonta Fire Captain Rob Latourette resuscitated her with oxygen.

ONEONTA – Oneonta firefighters were able to resuscitate a cat rescued from the fire in the Mayrose Apartment complex on Lewis Avenue this evening.

“She was pretty much dead when we found her,” said Capt. Rob Latourette. “I gave her oxygen and she revived quickly.”

The cat, named Oreo, is owned by Matt Baker, a resident of the apartment, was also treated at the scene for smoke inhalation. Baker, 26, managed to rescue his three guinea pigs, which are in the care of a neighbor.

A second cat, a cream-colored female named Cheeseburger, was not located in the apartment, and is believed to have run out the door when the fire broke out and is still missing.

Firefighter Delello Retires After 32 Years With OFD

Haunting Memory: 2003 Delhi Flood

Firefighter Delello Retires

After 32 Years With OFD

Jim Delello, a Critical Care Technician with the Oneonta Fire Department, finished his final shift at 8 a.m. this morning after 32 years with the OFD. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By IAN AUSTIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – After 32 years with the Oneonta Fire Department, firefighter Jim Delello’s served his final tour of duty today as a critical care technician with the Oneonta Fire Department.

“You see people at their best and their worst,” he said. “It is gratifying to see the effect you have on people’s lives, and it’s good when you can see a positive outcome after a call.”

He began working with the department on Sept. 4, 1985, then came on as a full-time firefighter the following year. He was Union President for sixteen years, served on Mayor Dick Miller’s task force for the department and takes the roll of Crew Leader when the Captains are off.

Job Corps Honors Fallen Hero Heller

Job Corps Honors

Fallen Hero Heller

Chris Kuhn, Director of the Oneonta Job Corps Academy, addresses family, friends and firefighters gathered in ‘the octagon,’ a hallway interchange on the third floor of Oneonta Job Corps named in honor of the late John D. Heller, who lost his life in December rescuing his fiancee and their nephews from the Walling Street arson. “We love him and we miss him.” said Kuhn. “It is our hope that when people walk through this space they will see his story and be inspired.” Members of the Oneonta Fire Department were present, as well as Mayor Gary Herzig, who remarked “This intersection was always full of life, it is only fitting it should be named after him.” At right, Heller’s fianceé Amber Roe speaks beneath his photo. “This is where we met. We spent a lot of time here talking and it was here fell in love.” Photos and stories of Heller’s life and sacrifice, along with his helmet signed by loved ones, are now on display in the John D. Heller Memorial. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Baking Mishap Causes Cherry Street Fire

Baking Mishap Causes

Fire On Cherry Street

Debris on the lawn of 9 Cherry Street, where an oven in an apartment caught fire last night. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – Plans for a pan of brownies went awry after an unknown debris in the oven of an apartment at 9 Cherry St. caught fire.

According to Jim Maloney, assistant fire chief, the call came in at 8:10 p.m. “They turned on the oven to pre-heat before making brownies and something in the oven caught fire,” he said. “The fire escaped and got into the structure.”

NEW EVIDENCE PROMPTS D.A. TO FREE TRUITT

NEW EVIDENCE

PROMPTS D.A.

TO FREE TRUITT

Unnamed New Suspect Is Sought

In Hero’s Death In Oneonta Fire

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

District Attorney John Muehl said that new evidence suggests that Terrence Truitt did not set the fire that killed firefighter John Heller, (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – New evidence obtained by Otsego County District Attorney John Muehl has suggested that Terrence Truitt did not set the fatal fire that killed former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller.

Muehl said that he plans to ask the courts to release Truitt from the Otsego County Jail this afternoon.

“Our investigation has revealed additional evidence that ethically requires him to be released,” said Muehl.

The arson charges, however, will not be dropped, according to Muehl.

Oneonta Hotel, City Due In Court Tuesday

Oneonta Hotel, City

Due In Court Tuesday

The City has called Melania and Nicolae Pervu, owners of the former Oneonta Hotel, on the right, into Otsego County Court on Tuesday, Feb, 5 with an Order to Show Cause, following the failed building inspection and two incidents of a carbon monoxide leak from a malfunctioning boiler that forced the evacuation of 189 Main St., at the corner.

By LIBBY CUDMORE  • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

City of Oneonta Code Enforcement officer Stephen Yerly, left, gives updates to his superiors as Michelle Catan, Kim Condon and other workers are vacated from 189 Main St. on Monday, Jan. 28 after high carbon monoxide levels were once again found on the second and third floors, the result of a malfunctioning boiler in the former Oneonta Hotel next door. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – Accusing 195 Main Street owners Melania and Nicolae Pervu of “gross negligence” and warning that they are “approaching criminal behavior,” the City of Oneonta will ask County Judge John Lambert to shut down the former Oneonta Hotel during a hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

“The situation has now passed far beyond dirty rugs and stained ceiling tiles from a leaking roof,” wrote David Merzig, city attorney. “The Respondents are now demonstrating gross negligence and, in the opinion of the City, actually approaching criminal behavior and must be stopped immediately.”

Since the initial inspection on Tuesday, Jan. 15, which the building failed, Merzig noted, two “serious and life-threatening incidents” related to 195 Main St. were reported.

C-O Leak Came From Old Hotel, Mayor Reports

2nd C-O Leak Came From

Old Hotel, Mayor Reports

Herzig

ONEONTA – The carbon monoxide leak at 189 Main St. that drove employees from their offices and sent six people from the hospital came from the boiler in the basement of the former Oneonta Hotel, Mayor Gary Herzig reported this afternoon.

“My understanding is that the hot water boiler was venting carbon monoxide,” said Herzig. “It was getting into the ventilation system for 189 Main.”

On Friday, a malfunction in the same boiler also caused carbon monoxide levels in 189 Main St. to rise, sending off alarms and prompting a building evacuation.

189 MAIN STREET EVACUATED

WOMAN HOSPITALIZED;

5 OTHERS TESTED AT FOX

2ND C-O LEAK

EMPTIES OUT

189 MAIN ST.

Building Next To Oneonta Hotel

Assistant Fire Chief Jim Maloney converses with NYSEG workers and City Code Enforcement inspectors to try and find the source of the second carbon monoxide leak at 189 Main St. in less than a week. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE  & IAN AUSTIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – A woman was hospitalized at late morning today and all the office and professional workers at landmark 189 Main St. were once again evacuated for high levels of carbon monoxide, the second time in four days.

The building was also evacuated Friday due to carbon monoxide from a faulty boiler at the former Oneonta Hotel next door, but Assistant Fire Chief Jim Maloney today, interviewed at the scene, said the source of this second contamination was still being investigated.

City Inspector Threatened Over Malfunctioning Furnace In Former Oneonta Hotel

City Inspector Allegedly

Threatened When Boiler

Malfunctioned In Hotel

189 Main is at the corner. The former Oneonta Hotel is to the right.

ONEONTA – Nicolae Pervu, owner of the former Oneonta Hotel at 195 Main St., allegedly threatened a City of Oneonta Code Enforcement Inspector after he reported to the scene of a malfunctioning boiler that filled the building at 189 Main with carbon dioxide.

“Our inspector left the building because he felt threatened by Mr. Pervu,” said Mayor Gary Herzig.

The issues began with the Oneonta Fire Department responded to 189 Main, where carbon monoxide detectors were going off. Firefighters found high levels of carbon monoxide in the building and evacuated the tenants, which include the offices of LEAF Inc, Otsego Now and several law offices.

Leads Poured In, Leading To Arrest Of Oneonta Man, 34

TERRENCE TRUITT IN CUSTODY

Leads Poured In,

Leading To Arrest

Of Oneonta Man, 34

Police, Fire Chiefs Detail What’s Known

Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon, left, and Police Chief Doug Brenner detail what they know at a 5 p.m. press conference in Oneonta City Hall. For a video of the press conference, click here.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Terrence Truitt

ONEONTA – Within hours of Saturday morning’s fire that claimed the life of former Oneonta firefighter John D. Heller, the leads began to pour in.

“We had more than 70 leads,” said Police Chief Doug Brenner an hour ago at a press conference held jointly with Fire Chief Pat Pidgeon. “And the investigation is continuing.”

The men reported Terrence Truitt, 34, Oneonta, was arrested and charged with first-degree arson, which investigators believe started on the second floor of 5 Walling Ave.

Heller and his fiancee, Amber Roe, lived on the top floor, and had their four nephews staying with them that night. Heller and Roe helped the children escape, but then was unable to get out of the building.

CLICK TO SEE TODAY’S PRESS CONFERENCE

 

Friday Funeral For Hero Firefighter

Friday Funeral Planned

For Heroic Firefighter

John Heller

ONEONTA – A funeral for John Heller, the former firefighter who died rescuing his four nephews and fiancee in the Saturday morning fire at his Walling Avenue home, will be at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 4 at the Bookhout Funeral Home.

Calling hours will be 5-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3.

Heller served with the Oneonta Fire Department in an on-call and part-time capacity from 2002-2009.

Oneonta Firefighter Died Saving Kids, Family Reports

WALLING AVENUE FATALITY

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 AllOTSEGO.com

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

City Hall, Oneonta Firefighters Spar Over Staffing

AllOTSEGO.com EXCLUSIVE

City Hall, OFD Union

Spar Over Staff Levels

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

The Oneonta Public Safety Building at Main and South Market houses the fire department, as well as police and courts.

ONEONTA – Negotiations between City Hall and the Oneonta Professional Firefighters have spilled out into the open.

The Oneonta Professional Firefighters accused Mayor Gary Herzig of “mischaracterizing” OPF’s “advocacy for maintaining adequate staffing” of the Oneonta Fire Department in a Dec. 17 press release.

OPF President Andrew Turner reiterated the Fire Department’s continuing need for “six trained firefighters…on duty 24/7” in order to keep Oneonta safe.  “This is not an increase in staffing,” he emphasized.

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