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San Antonio Fire Department Chief Charles Hood confirmed the death of Scott Deem, a six-year veteran of the department.

May 19-A San Antonio firefighter was killed and two others injured while battling a massive shopping center fire Thursday night on the city's northwest side. The strip mall is located on the 6700 block of Ingram Road. The 86,289 square-foot center was built in 1981.

Firefighters later stood by as the body of Scott Deem was removed from one of the buildings after 12 a.m. Friday.

L35 and E35 entered the structure to attack the fire and perform a primary search for potential victims.

He said when he walked outside the heavy smoke was pitch black.

"To a fire chief who's been in the business for a long time, you don't hear a lot of maydays and you could tell by the ... tone of the firefighters that something was wrong", he said. Immediately, a third alarm per the SAFD "Mayday" policy was dispatched.

He applauded the efforts of the rapid intervention team that went into the inferno to pull the missing firefighters out. One was taken to the San Antonio Military Medical Center in Priority 1 condition. More than 60 fire crews responded. It was identified as L35 FF 2.

Hood said support personnel are at the hospitals taking care of family members of the injured firefighters.

Another firefighter on the technical rescue team, Robert Vasquez, had minor injuries and was transferred to University Hospital.

Since firefighters had to take a "defensive" approach in fighting the flames, fire officials say they had to make the hard decision to leave Deem behind. All rescue operations ceased.

Investigators have said what caused the fire.

The investigation is ongoing and being led by the SAFD Arson Division, and it continues at the scene. This, he said, is part of their healing and recovery process. He is reportedly in critical, but stable, condition as of Friday afternoon. Vasquez, who joined SAFD on December 23, 2006, was later discharged and is now home recovering, Hood said.

Deem is survived by his wife Jennifer, a child on the way, 13-year-old daughter Dakota and 7-year-old son Tyler.

Deem joined the San Antonio fire department on January 3, 2011, said Chief Hood.