SAN ANTONIO - Balloons, flowers and kind words left at the San Antonio Public Safety Headquarters make up a memorial in remembrance of 31-year-old firefighter Scott Deem. He died fighting a massive fire at Ingram Square Shopping Center Thursday night.
San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood said the fire was so intense he ordered all firefighters to evacuate.
Two injured firefighters were rescued from inside the four-alarm fire, but the emergency evacuation team could not get to Deem.
"It was the most difficult decision of my life," Hood said. "I could not lose 10 or 15 firefighters, because the men and women in this organization would have continued to pour into that building to pull their brother out."
Deem, a Southwest High School graduate, joined Fire Station 35 in 2011. They were one of 83 units that responded to the deadly inferno. Deem was one of the first inside.
"He was a good friend to everyone who knew him and an asset to the San Antonio Fire Department in every sense of the word," San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor said.
Deem leaves behind a wife, two children and one on the way, but also brothers and sisters who wish there was more they could have done to save one of their own.
"We took the flag from his station, and we draped him in that flag," Chief Hood said. "We gave him the dignity that he deserves."