Man Arrested for Phoenix Firefighter Death

PHOENIX --

A man has been arrested in Texas in connection with the death of a Phoenix firefighter in an arson-caused blaze, fire officials say.

  • Archive Video: 3/14/01 Fire At Southwest Supermarket

Chris Benitez was taken into custody on Saturday, said Hugh Chase of the Phoenix Fire Department.

Bret Tarver, 40, was fighting a blaze at Southwest Supermarket on March 14, 2001, when he ran out of oxygen.

The fire that claimed Tarver's life started in a mound of trash behind the west Phoenix market, then roared out of control inside. Tarver got tangled in debris in the back of the store and became disoriented.

Rescuers pulled his body out of the fire minutes before the building collapsed.

An autopsy revealed he died of burns and smoke inhalation.

Chris Benitez

More than 120 firefighters responded to the blaze, which also damaged an adjacent hardware store and a clothing store. Three other firefighters trapped with Tarver suffered injuries.

Tarver left behind a wife and three young daughters.

On Sunday, officials made two other arrests in connection with another fire that occurred at 5414 S. 40th St., which was also classified as a murder/arson case. The two people arrested were Jeffrey Otto, 19, and Moniza Murillo, 20.

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