98-year-old cemetery caretaker dies in Kennedy Twp. fire

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KENNEDY TOWNSHIP, Pa. - An elderly caretaker died in a fire in a small, wooden building near a Kennedy Township cemetery Thursday morning.

Martin Jacobs, president of the Ahavath Achim Cemetery off of Green Oak Drive, identified the caretaker as 98-year-old Andrew Gupp.

Jacobs said Gupp lived in the building, which originally was built to be a chapel, for about 40 years.

“I ran right up here to make sure it wasn't him, but unfortunately, it was,” Jacobs said.

Allegheny County Emergency Services Chief Alvin Henderson said it appears the fire began in the living room. It was reported about 6:40 a.m., according to county emergency dispatch.

“The building was fully involved. We pulled two hoselines, went in and put the fire out in 10 minutes,” said Kennedy Township Fire Capt. Justin Gutt said.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

“Right now, there does not appear to be any suspicious activity involved in the fire,” Henderson said. “It's still very early on in the investigation.”

As caretaker, Gupp made sure the graves were dug, cut grass and helped visitors, Jacobs said.

He had worked for the cemetery for “60-odd” years, and recently began using oxygen tanks to assist his breathing, he said.

“Up until maybe a month ago, you would never know his age,” Jacobs said. “He was very mobile, but in the last couple of weeks, he started to get some health problems.”

Firefighters found Gupp's body approximately five feet from the doorway, Henderson said. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Jacobs said he’s trying to figure out what to do with the property.

Channel 11's news exchange partners at TribLIVE contributed to this report.