Propane explosion in Maine kills one firefighter, injures six other people

Propane explosion in Maine kills one firefighter, injures six other people
A propane explosion in Farmington, Maine leveled a building and killed one firefighter. Six other people were hurt. (Source: WABI)

FARMINGTON, Maine (WABI/Gray News/Associated Press) - An official said one firefighter was killed and several other people were hurt after a propane explosion at a nonprofit in Farmington, Maine according to a report from WABI.

The identity of the firefighter who died has not been released, but he was a long-time member of the department.

Six others needed medical treatment and of those six patients, four are firefighters, one is an employee of the nonprofit and the other is an ambulance worker.

One of those people was Fire Chief Terry Bell, who was airlifted in critical condition.

The ambulance worker was treated and released.

The others were taken to trauma centers and remain hospitalized. Their conditions have not been released.

Preck described the blast as devastating, saying it looked like something from 9-11.

The explosion happened at an office for LEAP Inc., which provides support for people with developmental, cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

There was an explosion at LEAPs Central office this morning. Staff were evacuated and to the best of our knowledge no...

Posted by LEAP Community on Monday, September 16, 2019

According to the Associated Press, Town Selectman Scott Landry said the building was evacuated when someone smelled gas Monday morning before most workers arrived for the day. The explosion occurred after firefighters arrived.

“The new building is spread all over creation,” Landry said.

According to planning board records, the building was a home that had been renovated to be the organization’s central office and training space.

Kim Hilton, who works in the admissions department at the nearby University of Maine at Farmington, said there were scary moments when the blast occurred.

“It felt like someone hit our building with a vehicle,” she said.

Gov. Janet Mills — who is from Farmington and whose office said she knew the firefighter who died — ordered flags lowered to half-staff across the state. Mills also visited the scene and promised the state fire marshal’s office will investigate.

I have directed that the United States and State of Maine flags be flown at half-staff statewide immediately through...

Posted by Governor Janet Mills on Monday, September 16, 2019

“We’re going to get to the bottom of as much as we possibly can to protect this community, to protect all other communities and make sure this doesn’t happen again,” she said.

Pictures from the scene showed a building in ruins.

Witnesses reported seeing rubble everywhere and smoke in the sky.

Farmington is about 70 miles north of Portland.

Copyright 2019 WABI via Gray Television Group, Inc and the Associated Press. All rights reserved.