Bridge may be dedicated for fallen Asheville firefighter - FOX Carolina 21

Bridge may be dedicated for fallen Asheville firefighter

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Capt. Jeffery Bowen (Asheville Fire and Rescue) Capt. Jeffery Bowen (Asheville Fire and Rescue)
ASHEVILLE, NC (FOX Carolina) -

The Buncombe County Board of Commissioners will discuss a proposal to name an Asheville bridge in memory of a firefighter that died in July.

The proposal the board will discuss at its Jan. 3 meeting is to have the Smoky Park Bridge named in the honor of Captain Jeff Bowen, 37, who died in a medical building fire July 28.

The resolution requests that the North Carolina Board of Transportation to dedicate the bridge, located near his Asheville fire station, in his memory. 

Bowen was a 13-year veteran of the Asheville Fire Department who died while responding to a four-alarm fire after calling for help while fighting the fire on the fifth floor of  the 445 Biltmore Ave. medical building.

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

Fire officials said firefighter Jay Bettencourt was treated at the burn unit at a hospital in Augusta, GA and was later released. They said six others were admitted for heat-related injuries and were expected to recover.

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

Several organizations including the NC State Fire Marshall, Asheville Fire Department, Buncombe County Fire Fighters Association and the Buncombe County Fire Chief's Association proposed the bridge's dedication to the county board.

The resolution before the board lists many of Bowen's accomplishments and contributions to the area including his first assignment as a firefighter to Engineer Company 1, then he was promoted to Fire Engineer of Engine Company 7, then he was promoted to Lieutenant and then, most recently as Captain of Rescue Company 3.

Bowen was also the coordinator of the rescue boat for the Asheville Police Department's Back to Basics Program, which serves the youth of the community, and was a member of the Asheville Fire Department Promotional Criteria Committee and received a bachelor's degree in 2010 in Fire Safety and Management.

The resolution states, "throughout his career, Captain Jeff Bowen brought honor to the City of Asheville and Buncombe County and had his life tragically cut short in the line of duty leaving behind family, friends and co-workers."

If the resolution is approved by the board, they will request the North Carolina Board of Transportation to dedicate the Smoky Park Bridge in his memory.

Additionally, several agencies are offering a $20,000 reward for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the person or people who set the fatal fire. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms said in August that the fire was deliberately set.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the City of Asheville and Asheville-Buncombe Crime Stoppers are offering the reward for info on the July 28 fire at the Medical Office Complex Building on Biltmore Avenue in Asheville that killed Bowen.

The fire also caused $10 million in damage. ATF, Asheville Police and Fire departments along with the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation continue to investigate the fire.

Anyone with information on the fire is asked to contact the ATF Arson Hotline at 888-283-8477, Crime Stoppers at 828-255-5050, NCSBI at 800-334-3000, or Asheville Police at 828-252-1110.

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