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Fire That Killed Firefighter Scott Deem Under Investigation

Louisa Jonas
Texas Public Radio
Part of a memorial for Scott Deem at Public Safety Headquarters

San Antonio Fire Chief Charles Hood says the fire that killed firefighter Scott Deem at a northwest strip mall last week was one of the worst fires in the history of the department.  Several hundred firefighters responded.  Fire investigators are still looking for the cause.


Chief Hood says investigators don’t yet know what caused the fatal fire. He says it’s too early to determine if any policies will need to be changed due to the fire and death of 31-year-old Scott Deem.

“This fire is still under active investigation at this time,” Hood said. “We just completed the interview process with all firefighters. We are still trying to comb the building to find out the cause.”

Chief Hood says the department is also simultaneously investigating what caused the death of Firefighter Deem and whether department operations were adequate.

“What we have learned is we’ve got a courageous group of men and women that are going to give their all to try to rescue one of their brothers,” Hood said. “We’ve also learned that the community is very generous, that they care about us. It’s been amazing.”

Hood says that during the funeral Friday, local firefighters will remain on duty to respond to calls, though fire trucks will be staffed with fewer people so colleagues can attend Deem’s service. At the site of the fire and at Public Safety Headquarter citizens have created memorials to Deem, decorating them with flowers, balloons and flags.

Injured firefighter Brad Phipps is in critical condition, but stable at this time.


Louisa Jonas is an independent public radio producer, environmental writer, and radio production teacher based in Baltimore. She is thrilled to have been a PRX STEM Story Project recipient for which she produced a piece about periodical cicadas. Her work includes documentaries about spawning horseshoe crabs and migratory shorebirds aired on NPR's Weekend All Things Considered. Louisa previously worked as the podcast producer at WYPR 88.1FM in Baltimore. There she created and produced two documentary podcast series: Natural Maryland and Ascending: Baltimore School for the Arts. The Nature Conservancy selected her documentaries for their podcast Nature Stories. She has also produced for the Chemical Heritage Foundation’s Distillations Podcast. Louisa is editor of the book Backyard Carolina: Two Decades of Public Radio Commentary. She holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from University of North Carolina Wilmington. Her training also includes journalism fellowships from the Science Literacy Project and the Knight Digital Media Center, both in Berkeley, CA. Most recently she received a journalism fellowship through Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution where she traveled to Toolik Field Station in Arctic Alaska to study climate change. In addition to her work as an independent producer, she teaches radio production classes at Howard Community College to a great group of budding journalists. She has worked as an environmental educator and canoe instructor but has yet to convince a great blue heron to squawk for her microphone…she remains undeterred.