SAN ANTONIO – An emotional San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood said Friday that a strip mall fire that killed one of his firefighters and injured two others was the department's "worst day."
Scott Deem, 31, was killed in the Thursday night fire in the 6700 block of Ingram Road.
Hood identified the injured firefighters as Robert Vasquez and Brad Phipps.
Phipps suffered serious burn injuries and was listed in critical but stable condition at San Antonio Military Medical Center, Hood said.
Hood said he had to make "one of the most difficult decisions of my life" to have his firefighters go on the defensive, knowing that a lone firefighter was unaccounted for.
"(We did) everything humanly possible to save (Deem)," Hood said at a news conference attended by Mayor Ivy Taylor, City Manager Sheryl Sculley, City Council members and fire officials. "We are heartbroken; disappointed that we didn't get him out. It was my decision that I would not lose 10 to 15 firefighters."
Hood said that Deem's body was recovered from Spartan Gym in the 86,000-square-foot strip mall that was built in 1981.
The chief said when he first listened to the call, the situation "sounded severe," especially when heard a mayday call 20 minutes into the fire.
"To a fire chief who has been in the business a long time, we don't hear a lot of maydays," Hood said.
Hood asked for residents to pray for his department as they go through this difficult time.
"We're in a life storm. We need your prayers," he said.
Taylor said flags will fly at half-staff around the city in honor of Deem, who was married and leaves behind two children. His wife is pregnant with their third child.
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