Probe Begins After Maine Explosion Kills Fire Capt., Injures Others

"Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy," Gov. Janet Mills said on Twitter

What to Know

  • A firefighter was killed and seven people hurt in a massive explosion in Farmington, Maine, that flattened a building.
  • The building was the main administrative building of LEAP, an organization that helps disadvantaged and disabled adults.
  • Gov. Janet Mills said she was monitoring the situation, adding, "Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy."

Federal, state and local authorities are investigating a powerful gas explosion that leveled a building in Farmington, Maine, a day earlier, as the community mourned the loss of a fire captain killed in the blast. 

Captain Michael Bell, 68, a 30-year veteran of the Farmington Fire Department, was killed in the explosion. His body was transported to the medical examiner's office Tuesday morning in a procession, with people lining the route.

Seven people, six from the same department, were injured in the blast, as well. Three of the victims remained in critical condition Tuesday night, Maine Medical Center said. Two others were upgraded to satisfactory condition.

Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell, the brother of Michael Bell, was one of the patients still in critical condition.

Larry Lord, a maintenance worker at LEAP, was also injured in the explosion, according to the state fire marshal's office. He was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital.

He was hailed as a hero Tuesday, having evacuated at least 12 people from the building after the smell of gas was first detected.

"Without his quick acitons, I think it would have been a much more horrific tragedy," Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck said.

Investigators from the State Fire Marshal’s Office and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives began processing the scene to pinpoint the source of the explosion, but a state fire marshal's official said that preliminary information on what caused the blast wouldn't come until the end of the week.

"It's a slow, methodical process that's going to take some time," Sgt. Ken Grimes said at a news conference.

The explosion happened Monday morning at a facility serving people with disabilities.

The blast rocked the area and sent dust high into the sky, according to witnesses and images shared on social media.

The smell of gas at the recently renovated Life Enrichment Advancing People, or LEAP, building was first reported to firefighters at 8:07 a.m., according to Farmington police. The building exploded when firefighters were arriving to the scene.

The blast also destroyed homes in a nearby mobile home park. The Red Cross is helping 10 people who were displaced with food, housing and other essentials.

"Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy," Gov. Janet Mills said in a statement Monday.

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