SAN ANTONIO - For the first time since San Antonio firefighter Scott Deem died doing the job of a hero, Chief Charles Hood sat down and talked about that fateful night.
"We're still in the storm. We've got life jackets on,” Hood said. “We've taken on some water, but we're going to continue to sail it until we see sun come through.”
Deem rushed into a gym in a West Side shopping center Thursday night to see if anyone was inside that burning building.
It was Hood who made the decision to pull all crews out of the building.
“The risk was losing several more firefighters and the reward would not have been there because, in our minds, we knew that Scott had perished,” he said.
Hours later, his fellow firefighters pulled his body out.
Deem entered SAFD on Jan. 3, 2011, and was assigned to Ladder 35 "A" Shift.
He was 31 years old and had been with SAFD for six years.
Five days later, the images from that night are still as vivid as when it happened.
“I saw one of my rapid intervention team members being drug out. I saw the crews from Station 11 and some of the other firefighters, tremendous firefighters, and they were getting their butts kicked,” he said. “The smoke conditions were getting worse. The winds -- we were having probably 25 mph winds.”
As for what caused the fire and what kept Deem from making it out alive, those issues remain part of an ongoing investigation.
For now, Hood is focused on helping his department and city heal. Making just one request.
“We ask them for their continued prayers for all of us.”
Deem leaves behind his wife, Jennifer, who is pregnant; a 7-year-old son, Tyler; and a 13-year-old daughter, Dakota.
Services for Deem will take place on Thursday and Friday.
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