MOUNT UPTON, N.Y. (WBNG) -- A fire early Wednesday in Chenango County claimed the life of a 16-year-old, according to the Chenango County Sheriff's Office.
Several fire departments were called to the fire at 457 State Highway 8 in Mount Upton at 1:15 a.m. Neighbors say the home belonged to Ernest Franklin, an Iraq war veteran, and his wife Heather, who is pregnant with their second child.
"It was horrible to watch because once the fire department got here, with the driveway and the conditions, they couldn't get up to the top -- they couldn't get around the bend," Dominick Gildersleeve explained. "So for a while it was just watch it burn."
Gildersleeve said the couple is known for the kindness and willingness to help those in need. Neighbors told 12 News the pair adopted the autistic and deaf son a few years ago.
"An Iraq vet, a soldier, everything that epitomizes what a hero is in this country, and he lost his everything last night in an instant," Gildersleeve said.
A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family.
Authorities say the cause of the fire appears to be a wood stove which was the main heating source to the residence.
The Chenango County Sheriff's Office was assisted by members of the Chenango County Bureau of Fire Investigation Team. The New York State Police also assisted with scene security. Crews from Mt. Upton, Sidney, Bainbridge, Guilford, South New Berlin and Cooperstown Medical Transport responded to the scene. A spokesperson for the American Red Cross said the organization is aiding the family in the immediate aftermath of the fire.