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Fire displaces Navy veteran from Middletown home; Kuppy's is taking donations to help

By Dan Miller

danmiller@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 1/31/19

Donations are being accepted at Kuppy’s Diner to help a  Middletown man who lost most of his possessions in a house fire in the 600 block of South Union Street early Wednesday.

Kevan …

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Fire displaces Navy veteran from Middletown home; Kuppy's is taking donations to help

Posted

Donations are being accepted at Kuppy’s Diner to help a  Middletown man who lost most of his possessions in a house fire in the 600 block of South Union Street early Wednesday.

Kevan Kern was sleeping on the couch downstairs when he was awoken to the fire by his barking Rottweiler, according to information posted on the Kuppy’s Diner Facebook page.

Middletown Volunteer Fire Company was dispatched to the scene at 1:45 a.m. Borough police and firefighters arrived to find flames coming out of the second-story windows of the house facing south, Fire Chief Kenny Whitebread told the Press & Journal.

Kern and his dog both got out of the house with no reported injuries, Whitebread said.

A post on the Kuppy’s Facebook page said that Kern had spent the last few years working on fixing the house up, “being one of the oldest houses in our town. It looked beautiful and he was almost finished.”

The fire spread from the second floor to the attic.

Flames coming from the residence caused “cosmetic” damage to the house next door on the south side, but firefighters were able to keep the fire from getting into the neighboring house, Whitebread said.

Where and how the fire started is being investigated by the borough fire marshal, the chief said. The second floor and attic have significant damage, but the foundation of the house is sound.

Kern is a Navy veteran of the Gulf War and Somalia and a longtime friend of the Kupp family that owns Kuppy’s Diner.

“If you enjoy helping good people, Kev is good people. He would give the shirt off his back to help someone in need,” the Kuppy’s Facebook post states.

The Kupp family honored Kern by having a banner with his picture made as part of the “Hometown Heroes” military banners that were put up throughout Middletown. The banner has been atop the diner for three years, said Kuppy’s co-owner Carol Kupp. The banner refers to Kern’s service in the Navy from 1989 to 1994.

The Kupp family is continuing to assist Kern in the wake of the fire that evicted him and his dog. A donation jar has been placed in front of the cash register at Kuppy’s Diner, to collect funds to help Kern recover from his losses.

More than $2,000 had been received in the donation jar as of Feb. 2, according to a Kuppy’s Diner Facebook post. The donations include three bags of dog food.

In addition, two GoFundMe campaigns have been started to raise money for Kern.

Kern’s house on South Union Street was not insured, according to information posted in one of the GoFundMe campaigns.

Fighting the fire was made more challenging by the extreme cold conditions. The roads were “very icy and slick,” Whitebread said, so it took firefighters a bit longer to get from the Adelia Street fire station to Kern’s house just south of New Beginnings Church.

Below-zero temperatures with the wind chill meant that as soon as water hit the road, it became ice.

Middletown Public Works employees responded to the scene with a truck to spread cinder on the roads. The employees carried buckets of salt to spread salt where the firefighters were working.

It took 50 minutes from dispatch until the fire was brought under control, Whitebread said. It took until about 6:30 a.m. before firefighters could finish cleaning up at the fire station and return home.

The Facebook post says Kern lost just about everything, except for some clothes and his wallet.

Middletown had about 20 firefighters at the scene. They were joined by about another 35 firefighters, including those with the Pennsylvania Air National Guard based at Harrisburg International Airport, and from fire companies in Elizabethtown, Hummelstown, Lower Swatara, Highspire, Steelton and Swatara Township.