Monday, September 16, 2019

Farmington Firefighter Captain Michael Bell killed in line of duty

Veteran firefighter killed, 6 others injured in Farmington explosion

Posted 9:01 AM Updated 1 min ago

Firefighters were called to the Farmington Falls Road building at about 8:07 a.m. for a smell of propane. The explosion occurred minutes later.

Captain Michael Bell died Monday in an explosion after responding to a gas leak at the LEAP building in Farmington. Photo courtesy town of Farmington

FARMINGTON — A fire captain was killed and eight other people — including six firefighters — were injured Monday morning when a building exploded, apparently due to a propane leak, according to officials.

Captain Michael Bell died Monday in an explosion after responding to a gas leak at the LEAP building in Farmington.

Capt. Michael Bell, 68, a 30-year member of the Farmington Fire Rescue Department and brother of the department’s chief, died in the blast at 313 Farmington Falls Road, according to Stephen H. McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

The explosion occurred after firefighters responded to a report of a gas smell shortly after 8 a.m. at the LEAP offices, which had recently been renovated and expanded.

LEAP, which stands for Life Enrichment Advancing People, is a group that provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to the nonprofit organization.

Along with the other firefighters, an emergency medical responder and a LEAP employee were injured in the explosion, according to McCausland. Five of the firefighters reportedly suffered serious injuries.

Bell was the second firefighter this year in Maine to be killed in the line of duty, according to reports.

A preliminary investigation indicates the explosion was caused by propane gas, according to Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck Jr., who spoke at a press conference near the fire station on Farmington Falls Road.

Firefighters were called to scene at 8:07 a.m. for a smell of propane, according to McCausland. The explosion occurred minutes later.

The two-story LEAP building and a new addition recently opened and was “flattened,” McCausland wrote in his press release.

Injuries to the victims include burns consistent with a blast, Peck said.

Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell Sr., 62, was among the seriously injured as was LEAP maintenance worker Larry Lord of Jay.

Both were taken by LifeFlight to hospital. The others who were injured were either taken by ground or flown to hospitals, Peck said.

The Bells are part of a firefighting family that included their father, the late Jack Bell who spent nearly 50 years on the department before he died at age 80 in 2009.
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