$20,000 reward for info about fatal medical office fire

Photo by Katy Brooks

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the city of Asheville and Asheville–Buncombe Crime Stoppers are offering a combined reward of up to $20,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for setting the fire at the Medical Office Complex Building, 445 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, according to a news release by the ATF

Fire Department Captain Jeffery Scott Bowen was killed and over $10 million in damage occurred as a result of the fire.

The investigation is being conducted jointly by ATF, the Asheville Police and Fire departments and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (NCSBI).

It is the policy of the U.S. Department of Justice and ATF to refrain from releasing or discussing in the public domain any evidence, investigative technique or any other information related to an on–going investigation until all judicial activity has been completed. In compliance with that policy this news release will stand on its own without any additional investigation related information being added as a result of follow up media inquiries.

Anyone with information about this crime is strongly encouraged to contact these agencies at the following numbers:

ATF Arson Hotline at (888) ATF FIRE or (888) 283–8477

Asheville–Buncombe Crime Stoppers at (828) 255–5050

NC State Bureau of Investigation at (800) 334–3000

Asheville Police Department (828) 252–1110

All information will be treated confidentially, and callers will remain anonymous if they request.

ATF is the federal agency with jurisdiction for investigating explosions and fire. More information on ATF and its programs is at www.atf.gov.

For more on the fire, see coverage of the event

The police incident report lists “used pass key” as the method of entry but also said the entry was “forcible,” according to an article in the Asheville Citizen-Times. It listed the weapons and tools used as “chemicals/acids.”

About Jeff Fobes
As a long-time proponent of media for social change, my early activities included coordinating the creation of a small community FM radio station to serve a poor section of St. Louis, Mo. In the 1980s I served as the editor of the "futurist" newsletter of the U.S. Association for the Club of Rome, a professional/academic group with a global focus and a mandate to act locally. During that time, I was impressed by a journalism experiment in Mississippi, in which a newspaper reporter spent a year in a small town covering how global activities impacted local events (e.g., literacy programs in Asia drove up the price of pulpwood; soybean demand in China impacted local soybean prices). Taking a cue from the Mississippi journalism experiment, I offered to help the local Green Party in western North Carolina start its own newspaper, which published under the name Green Line. Eventually the local party turned Green Line over to me, giving Asheville-area readers an independent, locally focused news source that was driven by global concerns. Over the years the monthly grew, until it morphed into the weekly Mountain Xpress in 1994. I've been its publisher since the beginning. Mountain Xpress' mission is to promote grassroots democracy (of any political persuasion) by serving the area's most active, thoughtful readers. Consider Xpress as an experiment to see if such a media operation can promote a healthy, democratic and wise community. In addition to print, today's rapidly evolving Web technosphere offers a grand opportunity to see how an interactive global information network impacts a local community when the network includes a locally focused media outlet whose aim is promote thoughtful citizen activism. Follow me @fobes

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