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Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

Toddler dies in Sidney house fire

Thursday, February 5, 2004

Staff Writer

A toddler is dead after his family's mobile home caught fire early Jan. 29 in Sidney.

Terry Bryan Kupfner, 17 months, was found lying on a small mattress on the ground, below what once was the floor of his parents' bedroom just after daylight that morning, Sharp County Chief Deputy Joe Stidman said.

At 2:07 a.m. Sharp County dispatch received a call from a neighbor who said the home at the intersection of Westmoreland and Bird Creek roads was on fire and Kupfner was trapped inside.

Two other children, ages 2 and 3, were carried to safety by their parents, Kellum "Kern" Kupfner, 22, and Maline Green, 22, Sharp County Sheriff Dale Weaver said.

The family's two dogs and cat also perished in the fire, Stidman said.

Sidney Fire Chief Brad Schultz determined the fire was caused by small space heaters in the living room of the home, Weaver said.

"They were out of propane and were heating the home with two or three space heaters in the living room," Stidman said. "The coils get red hot and the fan blows heat out of them. They (the fire department) believe the heaters were the source of the fire, but we don't know how the fire got started -- whether the heaters got turned over or not."

When Schultz arrived on scene, the older mobile home was completely engulfed in flames, Weaver said.

Kellum Kupfner and Green told Det. John Qualls they put the children to bed on a couch in the living room where the heaters were located, Weaver said. Green went to bed around 11:30 in her bedroom,

"About 2 o'clock, she (Green) got up and saw the living room was on fire," Stidman said. "They (the parents) grabbed the two kids and ran outside, but the youngest was missing."

Kellum Kupfner attempted to go back into the home to search for the young boy but was unable to locate the child because the fire was so intense, Stidman said.

Twelve firemen responded to the call and fought the fire. Two searched the scene for the child, but were unable to find the child until daylight.

Green said the child must have awakened during the night and come into the bedroom and lain on the small mattress while she and Kellum Kupfner slept.

The coroner said the death was due to smoke inhalation.

The couple works on a poultry farm owned by Randy Green, who also owned the couple's home, Stidman said. Stidman said Kupfner and Green are expecting another child.

"They have nothing now," Stidman said.

The family is staying with Green's mother at her home in Independence County until they find another home near Sidney, Stidman said.

An account has been set up for the family at First National Banking Company in Kellum Kupfner's name.

The Sidney Volunteer Fire Department is collecting items for the family, Stidman said.



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