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The Memorial Wall

Templeton Firefighter Loses Life in Fire

Lester Plumm

March 3, 1940 was the most tragic date in the history of the Templeton Fire Department, as it was on this day that Lester Lowell Plumm lost his life and eight others were injured while battling a fire in a garage located at 91 South Main Street.

Templeton Firefighters were notified of the fire approximately at 8:00pm.  Lester was one of the first firefighters to arrive at the fire.  Lester, being employed by the Seaside Oil Company, knew that the garage had a 55 gallon drum of gasoline inside as he had delivered it earlier in the week.  Lester attempted to gain access to the fire by opening the garage door, while other firefighters laid hose lines into the blaze.  As the door was opened the drum exploded sending gasoline and metal shrapnel into the air, striking firefighters, with Firefighter Plumm receiving the brunt of the explosion.

Firefighter Plumm had been a resident of Templeton for 23 of his 28 years of life and was admired and well liked by the Community.  He was survived by his wife Velora Estella Plumm, and his daughter Edwina Bell Plumm.

Others injured in the fire included Williard Gambel, Noel Bennett, Jack Simmons, George Fruits, Donald Stockdale, Harvey Owings, Henry Hove, and Melvin Fredrickson.

In 2000, the fire department hosted a dedication/recognition event of Lester Plumm, a Templeton Fire Department firefighter who lost his life in 1940.  Firefighter Plumm’s wife, Velora Howard, and his only daughter, Edwina Plumm Nye, as well as many extended family members and friends, were in attendance. A plaque (donated by the Lion’s Club) and a commemorative framed photo with the story of his death, was dedicated and now is housed in the fire station. (See full story in the 1940-1950 Decades chapter.)

 As the information regarding the death of Lester Plumm was nearly lost, it was clear Department personnel needed to make an effort to begin to collect information and artifacts regarding the history of the fire department.  Since then photos of past firefighters, information on major events within the fire district, as well as artifacts have been collected and many are now displayed at the fire station.