Korean War veteran dead in house fire

By Chelsea Bishop
By Casey Killian
By Conor Mooney
By Matt Porter

September 17, 2013 Updated Sep 17, 2013 at 10:53 PM EST

Candor, NY (WBNG Binghamton) A Korean War veteran died Tuesday morning in a house fire in Candor.

The fire broke out at approximately 2:30 a.m. at 119 Spencer Road.

Family of James Roberts, 80, confirmed he was home at the time of the fire and did not make it out in time.

His son Brian Roberts said he tried to rescue his father by punching out a window with his hand in his father's bedroom.

"I opened the front door and it was so hot. I couldn't enter the house. So I hollered his name, and then I went around and punched the window out," Brian Roberts said. "Because I knew he was in the bedroom, I hollered his name and got no response. The heat in there was so intense, I knew there was nothing I could do."

Roberts' wife, Carolyn Mae, 76, was out of town.

Capt. Martin Kopcho of the Candor Fire District said the house was fully involved when the fire department arrived. It took several hours to put the fire out.

Kopcho said it is believed the fire started in the rear of the home, possibly by a wood stove. Tioga County fire investigators are looking into the exact cause of the fire.

The department declared the home a total loss.

Fire departments from Weltonville, Owego and Spencer also responded to the scene as well as the Tioga County Sheriff's Office.

A section of Route 96 near Gridleyville Road in Candor was closed for several hours.

Roberts had lived in the house since 1969.

His son confirmed that James was a member of the U.S. Air Force and fought in the Korean War.

He said he was well respected and loved by members of the community.

"They cut firewood when he had a heart attack, he had a bypass," Brian Roberts said. "A whole bunch of guys got together and cut firewood for him so he'd be able to heat the house."

Roberts' wife Carolyn will be staying with family in the area.