Man dies in house fire

Sarah Eames | The Daily Star Terra Butler, founder of Oneonta-based animal rescue Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans, holds two kittens brought to the shelter Monday, Oct. 5, after a fatal fire Sunday in Fly Creek.

An early morning fire Sunday, Oct. 4, claimed the life of a 77-year-old man and displaced five family members and several pets from their home in Fly Creek.

State Police on Tuesday identified the victim as Robert L. Huestis.

Troopers and the Fly Creek Fire Department responded at around 5:30 a.m. to the fire at the rear of a Jones Road residence, according to Fly Creek Fire Chief Chris Voulo.

A 39-year-old male, a 32-year-old female and three children escaped the residence unharmed, according to Voulo. The male, the son-in-law of the decedent, returned to the residence to assist Huestis out of the home.

Voulo said Cooperstown emergency medical service technicians were performing CPR on Huestis on the lawn of the residence when he arrived on scene. Huestis was transported to Bassett Hospital where he later died.

A fundraiser has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses at

The two adults and three children are being assisted by the Red Cross, according to troopers.

Oneonta-based animal rescue Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans took in 16 cats that had been cared for by the family expected two more, according to organization founder Terra Butler. The family kept possession of two cats and a dog.

All of the animals — mostly kittens and young cats — escaped unharmed, Butler said, with a few suffering the aftereffects of smoke inhalation. A nursing mother cat and her kittens will be sent to a foster home, while others will be transferred to the Susquehanna SPCA and the Heart of the Catskills Humane Society.

Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans is in need of cat litter, cat and kitten food, Dawn dish soap, laundry detergent, pet-safe floor cleaner such as OdoBan, 13-gallon trash bags and 55-gallon drum liners, Butler said.

Donations may be dropped off at 697 Winney Hill Road, Oneonta, NY 13820. Monetary donations can be made at For more information, call 607-441-3227.

The fire remains under investigation by the New York State Office of Fire Prevention and Control, which is routine in the event of a fatality, Voulo said. No foul play is suspected.

Fire departments from Cooperstown, Richfield Springs, Schuyler Lake, Hartwick, Hartwick Seminary, Edmeston and West Edmeston also responded to the scene. Fire departments from Mount Vision, Springfield Center, Leonardsville and Pittsfield were on stand-by.

Sarah Eames, staff writer, can be reached at or 607-441-7213. Follow her @DS_SarahE on Twitter.

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