You may have seen some of the posts on James Mott and his memorial on October 23. This led me to do a little more research on him.The first firefighter in Petaluma was 1873 but at that time there were no city employees and only volunteers. James Mott was the first paid Petaluma firefighter for our city starting 1807 and became a part of the YOUNG AMERICA ENGINE COMPANY NO. 3, PETALUMA FIRE DEPARTMENT. He was also the city jailer and ambulance driver well-known for his special bond with his horse Black Bart. He is also the first Petaluma firefighter making the ultimate sacrifice while fighting a fire in the downtown who lost his life in the line of duty in a vehicle explosion on October 20,1912. His life would end a few days later at the age of 57.
You can click on the photo of the newspaper to read the article of the story in the San Francisco Call. I had not seen it mentioned anywhere else, but the Mayor of Petaluma, William H. Zartman, at that time also served as a volunteer firefighter and he was badly burned in this fire. Additionally a former Petaluma Fire Chief Henry J. Myers working as a volunteer had both ears burned off. The article indicates Mott inhaled flames from the fire. The force of the blast was taken directly by James Mott burning him severely. Despite being burned firefighter Mott assisted the injured bystanders to safety and helped extinguish the intense fire. This newspaper reported that over 25 people were seriously burned as a result of this explosion and fire.