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WILDWOOD - The Wildwood City Fire Department will present a bronze plaque Dec.20 at 1 p.m., in honor of Lt .Joseph R Walto of Wildwood Fire Company No. 1. 

According to a release, he was killed in the line of duty Dec. 25, 1943. The event will take place at the location of the disastrous fire located at Juniper and the Boardwalk. 

Members of the public are welcome to attend.    

Lt. Walto:

Lt. Walto was born March 13, 1881. He died on Christmas Day 1943 at the age of 62 while fighting a fire at Juniper and the Boardwalk. 

Walto worked as a driver for the Five Mile Electric Trolley Car Company and later worked for Atlantic City Electric where his duties included manually turning on the island's street lamps. 

He was later a supervisor of electric repairman until the fatal fire.

Walto was stricken at the fire scene and was transported to Dr. Margaret Mace's Hospital in North Wildwood. 

Mace summoned Walto's family to his side. 

Walto, a 27-year firefighting volunteer, died two hours later. His son, Army Staff Sgt. Joseph John Walto, learned of his father's death while he was preparing for the Allied assault on Anzio Beach, Italy, in World War II.

The blaze was considered the worst in the history of the cities of Wildwood and North Wildwood. It swept three boardwalk blocks, including the famous Ocean Pier, hotels and stores. 

Along with all the building northward on the boardwalk from Poplar Avenue, additional homes on Juniper Avenue and 26th Avenue were damaged.

Walto was survived at the time of his death by his wife, Carla K. Walto; daughter Elisabeth Walto; son Charles S. and his wife Francis Walto and son Joseph John.


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