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Arson charged in death of ex-firefighter killed in blaze

January 2, 2019

ONEONTA, N.Y. (AP) — Authorities say a 34-year-old man has been charged with arson in a fire that killed a former upstate New York firefighter who saved a woman and four boys from his burning apartment.

Police in Oneonta say Terrence Truitt was charged Wednesday in connection with 38-year-old John Heller’s death last Saturday. Investigators haven’t disclosed a motive or cause of the fire.

Oneonta Police Chief Douglas Brenner says it doesn’t appear Truitt had any connection to Heller. It could not be determined if Truitt has a lawyer to comment.

The fire broke out at Heller’s third-floor apartment early Saturday. Relatives say Heller’s fiancee and the four boys spending the night, three of whom were his nephews, survived thanks to Heller’s actions.

Heller was a part-time Oneonta firefighter from October 2003 to August 2009.

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