Fallen firefighter mourned, remains brought home - FOX Carolina 21

Fallen firefighter mourned, remains brought home

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Capt. Jeffery Bowen (Asheville Fire and Rescue) Capt. Jeffery Bowen (Asheville Fire and Rescue)
People gather at Pack Square for a moment of silence in Bowen's honor. (July 29, 2011/FOX Carolina) People gather at Pack Square for a moment of silence in Bowen's honor. (July 29, 2011/FOX Carolina)
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

Asheville remembered a firefighter who died battling a blaze Thursday as the city's largest annual festival began Friday afternoon.

Asheville Fire and Rescue Capt. Jeffery Bowen died after calling for help while fighting a fire on the fifth floor of 445 Biltmore Ave.

Officials said Bowen, 37, went into cardiac arrest after succumbing to intense smoke and heat.

The Memorial Service is scheduled for 11 a.m., Tuesday, Aug. 2 at Biltmore Baptist Church at 35 Clayton Road, Arden.  The route of the memorial procession will be released Monday, once the route has been confirmed.

Friday afternoon Bowen's body was brought back to Asheville from the medical examiner's office in Winston-Salem.

A moment of silence was held in honor of Bowen at noon at Pack Square as Bele Chere, the city's largest arts and music festival, began. The festival runs until Sunday.

Fire officials said firefighter Jay Bettencourt was released from the burn unit at a hospital in Augusta, GA on Friday.  They said six others were admitted for heat-related injuries and were expected to recover.  As of Friday afternoon, only 2 firefighters remained hospitalized. 

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 medical practices and some of the hospital's outpatient services on the lower floors.

Investigators said the fire started on the 5th floor that houses administrative offices.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) National Response Team (NRT), along with ATF special agents from the Charlotte Field Division were called in to investigate.

They estimimate damage from the fire will top $1 million.

More than 200 people escaped the blaze safely.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Firefighters remember fallen colleague

Asheville Fire and Rescue Chief Scott Burnette spoke about the pain of losing 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."

Asheville 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.

Fallen firefighters fund established

A fund was set up Friday to help Bowen's family, Bettencourt and the other six firefighters who were injured in Thursday's blaze.

Donations can be made at missionfoundation.org or mailed to Mission Foundation, 980 Hendersonville Road, Suite C, Asheville, NC, 28803.

Mission Hospitals said it will match all contributions up to a total of $10,000.

(Copyright 2011 FOX Carolina.  All rights reserved.)

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