4-alarm blaze kills 1, injures 7 others - FOX Carolina 21

4-alarm blaze kills 1, injures 7 others

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A fire truck's ladder is extended to a window on the fifth floor of an Asheville building. (July 28, 2011/FOX Carolina) A fire truck's ladder is extended to a window on the fifth floor of an Asheville building. (July 28, 2011/FOX Carolina)
Capt. Jeff Bowen Capt. Jeff Bowen
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

One firefighter was killed and seven others were injured in a four-alarm blaze at an Asheville office building Thursday afternoon.

The fire happened about 12:30 p.m. at the Biltmore Center at 445 Biltmore Ave.

Kelley Webb, of Asheville Fire and Rescue, said about 70 firefighters were at the scene. She said the fire happened on the fifth floor of the building. She said there were no sprinklers on that floor, which made the fire difficult to fight.

Webb said there were two "mayday" calls made during the fire. She said some firefighters suffered from heat exhaustion and injuries to their knees and backs.

Officials said Capt. Jeffery Bowen, a 13-year veteran of the department who was assigned to Rescue Company 3, was killed in the blaze. Bowen, 37, went into cardiac arrest after succumbing to intense smoke and heat. He was married with three children.

Fire Chief Scott Burnette spoke about the pain of losing Capt. Bowen.

"We are devastated by the loss of our brother Jeff," said Burnette. "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."

Mayor Terry Bellamy has ordered that flags at all city buildings be flown at half-staff until further notice.

"Jeff was a hero whose sacrifice will be forever honored," said Burnette.

Fire officials said Jay Bettencourt was injured in the blaze and transferred to a hospital in Augusta, GA. They said six others were admitted for heat related injuries and are expected to recover.  A hospital official said three other firefighters were treated and released.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

City officials said the building where the fire occurred is owned by Biltmore Condominium Associates.  A spokesperson with Mission Hospital said the building houses many private practice medical offices and some of the hospital's outpatient services on the lower floors.

More than 200 people were safely evacuated, and none of them were injured.

As of 10pm the fire was suppressed, but firefighters were still on scene to check for hot spots.

Stay with FOX Carolina and foxcarolina.com for the latest on this developing story.

If you have pictures or video of breaking news, email them to iwitness@foxcarolina.com.

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