A Central New York community is mourning the loss of a former firefighter in a blaze at his home December 29.

Kathy Whyte/WNBF News

Numerous reports from family and the media say former Oneonta firefighter John Heller saved his fiancée and four nephews from his burning home on Walling Avenue but he was unable to get out.

A facebook post from a family member called the 38-year-old a “hero.”

Otsego County Emergency Services operators got a report of a house fire in the City of Oneonta shortly before 4:30 a.m. December 29.

Authorities say the occupants of the house became trapped on the top floor of the building but the children and the woman were able to get onto a fire escape.

At least one of the boys was treated for burns.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.