SAN ANTONIO – One firefighter is dead after a massive 4-alarm fire at a Northwest Side shopping center Thursday night, the San Antonio Fire Department said.
Fire crews responded to the blaze in the 6700 block of Ingram Road about 9:12 p.m.
Due to the time of day and there being a gym in the shopping center, crews performed a search and rescue to make sure no one was inside.
San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said crews went in and due to the conditions of the fire changing, a few firefighters were missing.
Two firefighters were pulled out of the building. One was taken to the San Antonio Military Medical Center in Priority 1 condition. The second firefighter, who was part of the rescue team, was taken to University Hospital in Priority 2 condition. Hood said the pair are expected to be OK.
Hood said the fire was so intense that parts of the building started collapsing and crews had to go on the defensive. He said it was a very rough decision to leave a firefighter behind.
“That’s not what we do, but we had the risk of losing an additional, probably, 15 to 20 firefighters if we did not go defensive on this fire,” Hood said.
Hood said Scott Deem, a six-year veteran of the San Antonio Fire Department, was killed in the line of duty.
A procession was held after Deem’s body was placed in an ambulance to be taken to the medical examiner’s office.
“We had firefighters that fought fire desperately tonight to try to save their friend’s life,” Hood said. “You work with people for a third of your life in this job, and any one of us would lay down our lives for another firefighter. They fought heroically.”
Hood said crews affected by the fire were placed with crisis intervention personnel for support.
“We’re taking care of them and we have them at a station. They’ll be going home for the reminder of the night to a loved one,” Hood said.
Hood said support personnel are at the hospitals taking care of family members of the injured firefighters.
“At this time, I would like to ask the citizens of San Antonio to give us your prayers tonight because we are hurting. But we’re going to continue to do the good job that we always do,” Hood said.
The chief said 61 firetrucks were at the scene.
Hood said more information will be released at a press conference Friday morning.