Photo: Asheville Citizen-Times
Carol Motsinger, Asheville Citizen-Times
SWANNANOA -- The body of a man believed to be involved in a domestic disturbance Friday night was found Saturday in the smoldering remains of his home after it was engulfed in flames following gunfire aimed at Buncombe County sheriff's deputies.
Sheriff's office spokesman Natalie Bailey said the remains are believed to be of Thomas Alfred Roberts, 57, of 124 College Circle in Swannanoa off Warren Wilson College Road.
Positive identification of the remains and the cause of death will be determined by an autopsy, she said.
Sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic call for service at the home at 8:12 p.m. Friday, Bailey said. After securing the safety of the female resident, deputies were fired upon from inside the home, but did not return fire, she said. Shortly afterward, the home burst into flames.
Sheriff Van Duncan said at the scene late Friday night that the female resident had already left the home and had met with a deputy when the fire broke out.
"I think they were on their way back to try to help her get her purse and make contact," he said.
Duncan said Friday night that deputies believed the man now identified as Roberts was "probably" still in the house as it burned.
"We had several deputies and members of the special response team going house-to-house and checking the perimeter around the house to make sure we didn't have an ongoing public safety issue," he said.
Deputies found no evidence of break-ins at the residences close to the home, and checked with nearby residents to inform them of the ongoing situation, Duncan said.
"We felt pretty relatively quickly, after arriving and getting that perimeter done, that probably the individual was still in the house," Duncan said.
Firefighters contained the fire to the home, which is "a total loss," the sheriff said. Yellow crime-scene tape surrounded the property on Saturday. A Christmas wreath remained hanging on what is left of the exterior of the burned-out home, and a vehicle remained in the collapsed garage.
Bailey said the State Bureau of Investigation is assisting in the ongoing investigation.
"We are just trying to put the pieces together as to what led up to this," Duncan said.