SAN ANTONIO-- San Antonio Chief Charles Hood offered clarity and condolences in a morning press conference Friday after one of his firefighters lost his life battling a 4-alarm fire the night before.
Along with confirming the loss of 31-year-old Firefighter Scott Deem, Chief Hood identified two other SAFD firefighters who were injured in the blaze as Brad Phipps and Robert Vaquez.
Phipps joined the San Antonio Fire Department in April 2006 and was part of the Engine 35 team, same as Deem. Chief Hood said that Phipps has a long history with SAFD and was a legacy of his father, who was also part of the department.
During the fire, Phipps was overcome and suffered serious burns to his body. He was transported to SAMMC where he remains in critical but stable condition.
"There were reports that as he was brought out wounded, injured, he was battling the paramedics to go back in," said Chief Hood. "That's how these firefighters are. You have to corral every single person to keep them from going back in the building."
Chief Hood said Vasquez was also part of the technical rescue team, from Platform 11. "I know this kid," Chief Hood said. "I call them kids. Some are as old as I am. These are my children. I love them all."
Vasquez joined the department in 2006, within months of Phipps. The 11-year veteran had been discharged from the hospital after sustaining nonlife-threatening injuries, said Chief Hood. "We are thankful to God for this extremely heroic man."
Through tears, Chief Hood described Firefighter Scott Deem as a San Antonio native and family man who was expecting his third child with wife, Jennifer Deem. Deem graduated from Southwest High School in 2004 and entered the fire academy in 2011.
Deem joined the San Antonio fire department on January 3, 2011, said Chief Hood. He was just 31-year-old when he died in a massive fire that ripped through the Ingram Square shopping Center late Thursday evening. "We will celebrate Scott Deem in only a manner that is befitting a hero in this city," said Chief Hood.
It wasn't immediately clear what caused the fire and Chief Hood said the department will continue to investigate the scene. Chief Hood said he will be walking each of the nearly 2,000 firefighters in the department through the scene. This, he said, is part of their healing and recovery process.
See Chief Hood's full press conference: