Huge Explosion In Farmington Kills One Firefighter, Injures Many Others
Fire crews from several communities responded to an explosion Monday morning that's left one firefighter dead and six others with serious injuries.
Farmington Fire Dept. Capt. Michael Bell, 68, was killed in the explosion. Bell was a 30-year member of the fire department.
The explosion happened at 313 Farmington Falls Road, the central office for LEAP Inc. or Life Enrichment Advancing People, which provides support for people with cognitive, developmental, and intellectual disabilities. The explosion happened sometime before 8:30 a.m. Monday. Firefighters were on the scene, just after 8 a.m. Monday, responding to a report of a gas smell.
The six other Farmington firefighters injured were Chief Terry Bell , 62, who is the brother of Michael Bell; Capt. Timothy D. Hardy, 40; Capt. Scott Baxter, 37; and his father, firefighter Theodore Baxter, 64; firefighter Joseph Hastings, 24; and Deputy Fire Chief Clyde Ross, who was treated and released from Franklin Memorial Hospital. The five other injured firefighters are being treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland and all sustained serious injuries.
Chief Bell, Hardy, Scott Baxter and Hastings are full time members of the fire department. Michael Bell, Theodore Baxter and Ross are part time firefighters.
Also injured in the explosion was Larry Lord, 60, a maintenance worker at the facility. Lord was flown to Mass General Hospital in Boston.
Officials say only one of the injured remains at Franklin Memorial. Three were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland, two were transferred to Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, and one was taken to Mass General in Boston. The University of Maine at Farmington took to Facebook to reassure parents and friends that none of their students were working in an official capacity at the facility when it exploded.
Officials say the LEAP building was totally destroyed and several other houses in the area were damaged. Resources including the State Fire Marshal's Office and the State Police Incident Management Team are at the scene, investigating the circumstances that led up to the explosion.
Route 2 in Farmington will be closed until at least Tuesday evening, with traffic being detoured to Route 156.