When Jeff Bowen was growing up in Southern California he would walk home from school by a fire station.
One day, after the 6-year-old did not come home, his mother, Laurel Bowen, said she went looking for him at the station where she knew some of the firefighters. A captain pointed her inside.
"He said, 'You know he stops every day to talk to us.'"
The boy was sitting in the driver's seat of a fire engine. After his mother expressed her concern, he said to her, "Mom, I want you to know something. I'm going to drive one of these one day," his mother recalled.
He did. After putting out wildfires in California, Jeff Bowen moved to Asheville where he was promoted to fire department engineer and later captain. On July 28, 2011, the day a four-alarm blaze ripped through a medical building at 445 Biltmore Ave., Laurel Bowen and other family members came to the scene.