What to Know
- Farmington Fire Capt. Michael Bell was killed and 7 other people were injured Sept. 16 during a propane explosion that flattened a building.
- A letter written on Facebook on behalf of Bell's family thanked the community for their support.
The family of the Maine firefighter killed last week in a propane explosion in Farmington are thanking the community for the support it's showed, from the procession that carried him home to Farmington to the donations that poured in in their time of need.
A letter written Sunday on Facebook on behalf of Farmington Fire Capt. Michael Bell's wife Diana and his daughters, Michelle Fish, Danielle Flannery and Sara Bell, expressed how much of a challenge it has been for the family to lose the veteran firefighter in such "tragic, public way."
"He was a very humble man, so in keeping with his wishes, our family plans to mourn him privately. This is what our hearts are guiding us to do," read part of the letter.
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Bell was killed and seven other people were injured, including Bell's brother Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell, after a powerful propane gas explosion ripped through a facility that serves people with disabilities Sept. 16. The building was reduced to rubble.
The letter went on to thank the community for the support the family received when Bell's body was brought back to Farmington from the medical examiner's office.
"He was welcomed home by aerial ladders with a hanging American flag and countless emergency services personnel who saluted him upon his return and offered their heartfelt condolences. We were so moved by the people lining the streets in salute, with hands held over hearts, holding flags and handmade signs thanking our dad for his service. To all of you who participated in Tuesday’s procession, please know that we SAW you as we passed by and we FELT your honor for him and your love," the family said in the letter.
The family also thanked countless members of the community for their donations of food, water and money, as well as family and friends who lent support.
I am closely monitoring the explosion in Farmington and have instructed the Department of Public Safety to keep me apprised of the situation. Per protocol, the State Fire Marshal’s Office will thoroughly investigate the cause and origin of this devastating explosion. (1/2)— Governor Janet Mills (@GovJanetMills) September 16, 2019
Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy, especially to the loved ones of the firefighter lost and others injured. I am grateful for the work of first responders who are at the scene and urge Maine people to avoid the area. (2/2)— Governor Janet Mills (@GovJanetMills) September 16, 2019
"We are in awe of his brotherhood of firefighters from afar and many others who did not know him personally, yet are paying tribute to him by sharing touching photos with us, changing your profile pictures to a shrouded badge or honoring his memory at your events. Please know that these sentiments are not unnoticed, they are wrapping us with a virtual hug that is very much appreciated," wrote the family.
The full letter from the family can be read here.