Updated Thursday night, 7:10 p.m. See other postings.
One Asheville firefighter was killed, and a second firefighter was critically injured this afternoon at a four-alarm fire at a medical office building. Capt. Jeff Bowen, 37, was fatally injured while conducting a search inside the building. He was performing the search with a second firefighter.
Capt. Bowen was transported to Mission Hill Hospital in critical condition. A second firefighter, Jay Bettencourt, has been transported to a burn center in Augusta, GA. He was in stable condition at the time of transport. Six other firefighters were transported to Mission Hill for heat exposure and other injuries.
Crews were called to
445 Biltmore Avenue at about 12:30 p.m. Flames were venting from
windows on the fifth floor, at points during the incident. Tax records say building is five stories with 20,000
square-feet. Built 1982, it's located near Mission Hill Hospital.
WLOS photo / Citizen-Times photo
About 1:30 p.m., a mayday was sounded, with reports of a firefighter down. As noted in news reports, all firefighters were withdrawn from the structure for an accountability check. Exterior operations commenced, and the fire was extinguished just before 3:00 p.m. In addition to the injured firefighters, one other person was transported.
Fire Chief Scott Burnette conducted a press conference at 5:00 p.m. at City Hall. He noted that Capt. Bowen was a 13-year veteran, assigned to Rescue Company 3. He is survived by a wife and three children.
Additional details, from Chief Burnette's conference: The building did not have sprinklers. Some 200 people were inside at the time of the fire. No civilian injuries were reported. Assistance was received county-wide, including from Buncombe fire and EMS departments, and Emergency Management.
The last line of duty death in Asheville was Raymond Flowers, who died in 1982 from injuries suffered during firefighting. The last four-alarm fire in Asheville was over 30 years ago.
Sources / Links
Praying for our brothers and sisters in Asheville
nbfr vollie - 07/28/11 - 18:18
Jake - 07/28/11 - 18:53
My heart goes out to the brothers and sisters in Asheville.
Kermit - 07/28/11 - 19:21
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” John 15:13
Praying for the survivors of Captain Bowen, whether family or firefighter brothers. Prayers are also going up for Firefighter Bettencourt – may he have a speedy recovery.
Jason Thompson (Email) - 07/28/11 - 23:47
I got a chance to listen to the online radio traffic & it was so heartbreaking to listen to the multiple maydays go out & the firefighters not exactly knowing where they were. I pray for Captain Bowen’s family and all of the Asheville FD, a really top notch fire dept in my opinion. This will really put a damper on Bele Chere this weekend, one of Asheville’s biggest outdoor events downtown. RIP Jeff!!!
BFD1151 - 07/29/11 - 11:19
Here is the link to any that want to listen to the audio.
Mike - 07/29/11 - 11:50