Farmington marks one year since explosion that killed firefighter, injured several others

Published: Sep. 16, 2020 at 11:44 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2020 at 1:36 PM EDT
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FARMINGTON, Maine (WMTW) - Wednesday marks one year since the explosion in Farmington that devastated the community and the town is marking the anniversary.

Fire Capt. Michael Bell was killed in the blast on Sept. 16, 2019. Six firefighters and LEAP maintenance manager Larry Lord were seriously injured.

Lord was hailed as a hero for evacuating LEAP employees before the building exploded. He burned over 80% of his body and spent several months in the hospital.

Farmington firefighters and Bell’s family gathered Wednesday morning for a private ceremony at the fire station. A moment of silence was held at the exact time of the explosion, just after 8 a.m.

There was a procession from the fire station to Capt. Bell’s grave at Fairview Cemetery, followed by another private ceremony at the cemetery.

A remembrance ceremony was held across the street from the LEAP building late Wednesday morning. Gov. Janet Mills spoke at the ceremony, as well as Assistant Fire Chief Tim Hardy.

Hardy thanked the community for their support in helping the department heal over the past year.

Hardy also thanked members of Bell’s family.

A public memorial has been set up on the site of the former LEAP building on Farmington Falls Road. That memorial includes a ladder truck and flag display, a memorial wreath, Captain Bell’s fire gear, and “thank you” banners.

The public was invited to drive-by only due to COVID restrictions. A large-scale event cannot be held.

Gov. Janet Mills has also ordered all flags be flown at half-staff on Wednesday in honor of the firefighters.

Investigators determined a propane leak caused by a severed gas line was responsible for the deadly explosion.

Copyright 2020 WABI. All rights reserved.

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