Farmington Maine explosion, Firefighter killed, multiple people injured (Reports).
A powerful propane explosion leveled a new building that houses a nonprofit agency after crews arrived to investigate the smell of gas Monday morning, killing one firefighter and injuring at least six others, officials said.
The building had been evacuated after the gas was detected, said Farmington Town Selectman Scott Landry.
The building housing LEAP Inc., which serves people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, had recently opened, Landry said. A hole is all that is left of the building.
The injured were taken to multiple hospitals in Maine and Massachusetts and at least five remained hospitalized early in the afternoon. They include Fire Chief Terry S. Bell Sr., who was taken by LifeFlight helicopter from the scene.
Others injured included three other firefighters, an employee of the nonprofit, and an ambulance worker, according to Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.
The ambulance worker was treated for his injuries and released from the hospital.
This is the second Maine firefighter to die in the line of duty this year.
His name has not been released pending notification of his family.
In March, Berwick Fire Capt. Joel Barnes died battling an apartment fire. Barnes, who is credited with saving a fellow department member’s life, was likely the first firefighter in Maine to have died in a fire in more than 38 years, public safety officials said at the time.
A maintenance worker is credited with getting several people to safety just before the explosion leveled the Farmington structure.
Larry Lord, 60, of Jay was able to get people out of the building after the smell of gas was detected, according to Darryl Wood, executive director of LEAP.
While firefighters were investigating the gas leak, the building exploded, according to emergency officials.
Lord is being treated for multiple burns and was flown to Massachusetts General Hospital by LifeFlight, according to Wood.
Maine Medical Center in Portland announced it is anticipating the transfer of several patients from the explosion to its emergency department. Trauma teams were on standby, according to the statement.
According to Peck, Fire Chief Terry S. Bell Sr. was among the injured and was transported by LifeFlight from the scene. He has been with the department since 1977.
Bell became a lieutenant in 1983, was promoted to assistant chief the following year, and promoted to deputy chief in 1991 before being named chief in 2000. A Farmington native, he graduated from the Maine State Fire Academy in 1981 and, in 1991, became the town’s emergency management director.
Department of Public Safety Spokesman Steve McCausland said multiple homes in the area where damaged and the LEAP building, which was recently renovated and expanded, was destroyed. The town had assessed the building’s value at $100,000.