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'Respected by so many.' Asheboro firefighter dies of COVID after decades on the job
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'Respected by so many.' Asheboro firefighter dies of COVID after decades on the job

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A North Carolina firefighter known for his dedication to his community spent weeks in the hospital with COVID-19.

Chris Hoover, a battalion chief with the Asheboro Fire Department, died on Jan. 8, more than a month after contracting the disease. He was 47, officials said.

Hoover is remembered as a dad and longtime firefighter in Asheboro.

“He loved fishing and spending time on the pier at the Waterway Campground with his friends and his extended family,” Ridge Funeral Home & Cremation Service said in an obituary on its website. “Mostly he loved spending time with his family and friends, especially his girls.”

When he wasn’t with relatives, officials said Hoover also served the nearby Ash-Rand Rescue Squad & EMS and the Tabernacle Volunteer Fire Department.

“Anytime you had a question, he was right there,” said Samantha East, an Asheboro Fire Department spokesperson who worked at Tabernacle. “As far as being a leader, he wasn’t one of those that would just tell you to go do this or do that, he would jump in there and help you do it.”

In the Asheboro department, East didn’t always cross paths with Hoover but said he was considered as a “big brother” to some.

“He had a big heart,” East told McClatchy News in a phone interview. “But at the same time, he loved to play jokes on us because we are a family here. We do live together pretty much. We work 10 days a month together, 24-hour shifts.”

Hoover had worked for the Asheboro department for 24 years and became battalion chief in 2016. He also spent the past two decades with Tabernacle, according to his obituary.

After Hoover’s death, the departments were among several sharing their condolences on social media. Asheboro officials in a news release thanked those who had offered supportive messages.

“It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of Battalion Chief Chris Hoover after a hard-fought battle with COVID-19,” the department wrote in a Facebook post. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the Hoover family.”

The nearby Ramseur Fire Department said: “He was respected by so many and will be greatly missed.”

Also weighing in was the Fire & Rescue Management Institute at UNC-Charlotte, which listed Hoover as a 2019 graduate.

“Our prayers of comfort and love are with Chris’s family and his fire service family,” the program said.

Hoover’s life was cut short after he was hospitalized with coronavirus-related complications in late November. He died at UNC Medical Center in Chapel Hill, officials said.

The Asheboro Fire Department in a news release didn’t say whether Hoover was vaccinated against COVID-19. Health officials have urged all eligible adults to get their shots to help protect them from getting seriously sick.

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