By Don Morgan and Bill O’Neil
A heartbroken San Antonio Fire Department is remembering one of its own.
“We had to make a decision that we were going to go defensive–one of the most difficult decisions of my life” Chief Charles Hood said about 12 hours after that deadly four-alarm fire Thursday Night inside a strip mall off of Ingram Road near Loop 410.
That decision made by Hood in the midst of the search for six-year Department veteran Scott Deem, after hearing a number of “may day” calls.
“You could tell by the tenor and the tone of the firefighters that something was wrong” the Chief said.
“No regrets for doing that” Hood said, adding “We saved lives by pulling those firefighters out.”
Deem’s body was found about an hour after firefighters were ordered out of the building.
“We took the flag from his Station… and we draped him in that flag” Hood said.
Firefighters could be seen saluting the ambulance carrying Deem’s body away from the area. We’re told Deem was married, and is the father of two children and another on the way.
Two other firefighters were also hurt. Robert Vasquez is home recovering after suffering minor injuries. Brad Phipps was rushed to San Antonio Military Medical Center, where he remains in critical but stable condition after suffering severe burns.
“For our firefighters, the words can’t explain what happened to us last night” San Antonio Professional Firefighters Association President Christopher Steele said.
“I’ve asked the Governor of Texas Greg Abbott to order our flags flown at half-staff to honor this young man’s sacrifice–and the Governor has honored that request” Mayor Ivy Taylor said, asking the City to pray for Deem’s family.
“We will walk through this life storm with his family. We will find out the answers we need to find out” Hood said.
Investigators believe they have identified where the fire started, but are not yet ready to reveal what might have caused the flames.