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Asheville Firefighter Perishes in Line of Duty

Friday, July 29th, 2011

ASHEVILLE, NC – Asheville firefighter perishes in line of duty Several others injured in blaze at medical building UPDATE: 7/28/11 10 p.m. – The fire has been contained. Firefighters remain on scence, checking for hot spots. At about 12:30 p.m., fire crews responded to a call at 445 Biltmore Ave., which houses medical offices near the Mission Hospital campus. Capt. Jeff Bowen, 37, went into cardiac arrest after succumbing to intense smoke and heat. Bowen has been with the department since 1998. He lived with his wife Stacy in Alexander. They have three children. Seven other firefighters were transported to Mission for treatment of heat exposure and other injuries. One other firefighter, Jay Bettencourt, was transported to a burn center in August, Ga., for treatment. He was in stable condition at the time of the transport. Fire Chief Scott Burnette spoke about the pain of losing Capt. Bowen. “We are devastated by the loss of our brother Jeff,” he said. “He dedicated himself to protecting the people of Asheville, and this is a terrible tragedy for our city, for all of us in the Asheville Fire Department, and most importantly, for his wife Stacy. We are praying for her, and offer our deepest condolences to all who knew and loved him as we did.” “Jeff was a hero whose sacrifice will be forever honored.” Mayor Terry Bellamy has ordered that flags at all city buildings be flown at half-staff until further notice. “I am deeply saddened by the death of Capt. Bowen, who today made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” she said. “This is a tragic reminder of the daily risks the heroic men and women of the fire department face each day, for our safety. “My fellow council members and I send our thoughts and prayers to his loved ones and to his colleagues in the Asheville Fire Department, who are mourning this terrible loss.” The building where the fire occurred is owned by Biltmore Condominium Associates. It broke out on the top floors, and more than 200 people were evacuated. No civilian injuries were reported, and Mission Hospital was not impacted. The cause of the fire is under investigation. The city has not experienced a four-alarm fire in at least the last 30 years. Some 60 Asheville firefighters ultimately responded to the call. They were assisted by fire crews from departments in Buncombe County, as well as Asheville police.