Firefighter dies while fighting Northwest Side fire

Major fire on the Northwest Side at Ingram and Northwestern. (SBG Photo)

SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Fire Department announced the death of a 6-year-veteran of the agency during a massive 4-alarm fire at a strip center near Loop 410 and Ingram Road late Thursday night.

Scott Deem died when he became trapped inside the fire at the Ingram Square shopping center, said Chief Charles Hood.

Two other firefighters were injured in the fire were identified as Brad Phipps and Robert Vasquez. Phipps is in critical but stable condition, while Vasquez was treated at the hospital and released.

During an emotional press briefing, Hood said firefighters arrived at the scene of the fire and began a 'search and rescue' operation to make sure no one was inside the building.

Mayor Ivy R. Taylor has issued a letter to Governor Greg Abbott requesting he order flags fly at half-staff in honor of fallen firefighter Scott Deem.

“We are blessed to have an outstanding fire department made up of some of the best and bravest men and women in the country. Unfortunately, last night one of our best did not make it home,” said Mayor Taylor. “We will always be in debt to Mr. Deem and the sacrifice he and his family have made. Asking the flags be flown at half-staff is just one way we as a city can pay tribute to his service.”

Flags will remain at half-staff until interment.

Congressman Henry Cuellar released a statement saying “I am saddened to learn of the tragic loss of firefighter Scott Deem. My sincere condolences to his family, his friends, and everyone in the San Antonio Fire Department. I am praying for the others who have been injured in this horrible tragedy.”

At some point, events took a dangerous turn and crew members realized two firefighters were missing believed trapped inside the fire. Because the firefighters had to take a 'defensive' approach in fighting the flames, Hood said the difficult decision was made to leave a man behind. He did not elaborate.

Chief Hood said more information would be released on Friday morning.

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