Following a horrific fire in a New York home, which claimed the lives of former NYPD officer Thomas Sullivan, his wife, and two teenage daughters, it has been revealed that the officer died a hero.

Sullivan’s brother-in-law Thomas Zielinski, told the Journal News that he died a hero, saving his 20-year-old son, Thomas Jr’s, life. His son said his father woke him up and tried to rescue the rest of his family.

Thomas Jr was treated for smoke inhalation. His father woke up screaming, “The house is on fire!” Thomas Jr escaped by crawling down the stairs and into the garage. He opened the door with a rope, as the electricity was out.

When the police arrived he told them his family was trapped inside. His father’s remains were discovered on the second floor, near the back deck of the house. It is believed he was trying to escape through an upper window.

Zielinski said, “Let me tell you something, Big Tommy was a good man, he loved his family. I don’t care if there was a wall of fire, he was going to go through it, because I don’t think he could live without his family. He would have done anything, and he did.

”The source of the fire is still unknown. Carmel Police Chief Michael Johnson said, “At this point, I don’t rule anything out. It’s too early to make a determination one way or another.”

Here’s a press conference held after the tragedy:  

Thomas Sullivan and hius daughter, Mairead, march St. Patrick’s Day parade in Mahopac in March 2012.Journal News