FARMINGTON – A deadly gas explosion both physically and emotionally rocked the surrounding area.
One firefighter was killed and others seriously injured.
One person is dead and seven are seriously injured after a suspected gas explosion leveled the building of a non-profit agency named Life Enrichment Advancing People, or L.E.A.P.
“The maintenance manager smelled gas when he was taking some equipment downstairs from an event this weekend and he immediately evacuated the building, got the employees who were there out. And the fire department went into the basement with him, and that s when the explosion happened,” said Scott Landry, a member of L.E.A.P Board of Directors.
The explosion occurred just after 8:00 in the morning and according to surrounding neighbors, the impact of the blast shattered their windows, knocked doors off their hinges and blew insulation miles down from the blast radius.
“The first thing you saw was the air was full of this white substance and you choked on it. That’s how bad it was. I’ve never seen a gas explosion before and the devastation was, I don’t know how they didn’t all die to be honest with you, it was that bad,” Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols said.
According to the State Fire Marshall, 68-year-old Farmington Fire Captain Mike Bell died at the scene of the explosion while his brother, Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell, is among the six firefighters injured.
Five of the firefighters were taken to Maine Medical Center in Portland with serious injuries.
60-year-old Larry Lord, the maintenance man who discovered the gas leak also sustained serious injuries.
“Our hearts go out to all the families of the injured and the deceased and to all the people of this community of which I am a proud member,” Governor Mills said.
ATF and State Fire Marshal investigators will process the scene Tuesday to pinpoint the source of the massive explosion.