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Chief Hood: We need prayers tonight, because we're hurting

Crews salute the body of Firefighter Scott Deem as it is escorted by ambulance to the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office on Thursday, May 1

SAN ANTONIO - An emotional and tearful Chief Charles Hood asked the San Antonio community for its support following the tragic death of a firefighter during a massive fire at a Northwest Side shopping center.

Firefighter Scott Deem, a 6-year-veteran of the department, died while fighting the fire at a shopping center at Ingram Road and Northwestern, near Ingram Park Mall.

Chief Charles Hood said part of the structure collapsed, trapping Deem. He said crews made the difficult decision to evacuate the building and leave Deem behind.

Once crews were able to retrieve Deem, crews saluted his remains as he was escorted to the Bexar County Medical Examiner's Office.

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.

"I would like to ask the citizens of San Antonio for their prayers tonight, because we're hurting," he said as he fought back tears.

Governor Greg Abbott extended his sympathies on Friday morning.

“Cecilia and I extend our heartfelt sympathies to the Deem family during this unimaginably difficult time,” said Governor Abbott. “Those who put their lives on the line to serve others deserve our deepest respect, and we can never say thank you enough. In the days to come, we ask that all Texans join us in sending their well wishes to those injured in this incident for a full and speedy recovery, and in keeping everyone affected by this fire in their thoughts and prayers.”

Deem is the first SAFD firefighter to die in the line of duty since 1997.

On a post on its Facebook page, the San Antonio Professional Fire Fighters Association said, "Tonight during a 4th alarm blaze we lost a brother Scott Deem. We humbly ask for your prayers for his family at this time. We also ask that you pray for our other brothers also injured in this blaze and that they heal quickly."

Mayor Ivy Taylor also offered her condolences as news spread of Deem's death. "Sad night in #SATX. @SATXFire plays critical/dangerous role. Their service goes beyond their own safety & we r 4ever grateful," she wrote.

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.

RELATED: Firefighter dies while fighting Northwest Side

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