Franklin Countys First News

Conditions of firefighters at Maine Medical Center improve

PORTLAND - The condition of both firefighters at Maine Medical Center was upgraded Friday, while the man that evacuated the LEAP Inc. office building on the Farmington Falls Road prior to a devastating propane explosion on Sept. 16 remains in critical condition in Boston.

Per Friday's update from MMC, Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell, 62, is now listed in satisfactory condition, while Capt. Scott Baxter, 37, is listed in fair condition. Those conditions improved from fair and serious for Bell and Baxter, respectively.

Larry Lord, 60, remains in critical condition at Massachusetts General Hospital. Lord has been called a hero by local officials for his actions on the morning of Sept. 16, when he evacuated the administration and training building at 313 Farmington Falls Road after smelling gas in the basement. Minutes after the department responded to the report an explosion tore through the building, killing Capt. Michael Bell, 68, and injuring Lord and several firefighters.

According to the State Fire Marshal's Office, Lord and Baxter were both in the basement of the building when it exploded, as was Capt. Timothy "TD" Hardy, 40, and firefighter Joseph Hastings, 24. Capt. Bell was on the first floor, while Chief Bell was near the rear door of the building. Firefighter Theodore "Ted" Baxter, 64, and Deputy Chief Clyde Ross were both outside.

With the exception of Ross, who was treated and released from Franklin Memorial Hospital, the other patients were rushed to FMH and later to MMC, with the exception of Lord, who was taken to Mass General. Firefighter Baxter, Hardy and Hastings were all previously released from MMC, returning via processions of emergency vehicles to the Farmington station.

Investigators believe that propane leaked out of the buried line that ran from an external tank to the building, permeating the ground beneath the parking lot and then entering the building's basement. That tank was filled with nearly 400 gallons of propane on Sept. 13, but was discovered to be empty by Lord and another LEAP employee Monday morning, prior to the explosion. The cause of the leak and what sparked the explosion remain under investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Maine Solid Fuel Board and local agencies.

Also on Friday, Governor Janet Mills proclaimed Saturday, Oct. 5, as Firefighter's Recognition Day.

"Like all first responders, Maine’s firefighters courageously put their lives at risk every day to protect us and ensure our safety," said Mills in a statement released Friday. "Too many times this year, our firefighters have laid down their lives in the line of duty and we remain forever grateful for their sacrifice. Tomorrow, I urge the people of Maine to join me in thanking our firefighters for their service and selflessness."

In Farmington, a number of departments from across the state have been taking volunteer shifts to provide fire protection coverage since the Sept. 16 explosion.

The United Way of the Tri-Valley Area has taken point on finding housing for the 30 people displaced by the explosion. A committee consisting of representatives of the town, the police department, LEAP Inc. and local social service agencies have awarded funds collected by United Way to address the needs of the displaced Farmington residents, LEAP employees and will also be looking at what help firefighters and their families will need.

Information about a number of different benefit events and ways to donate to support those impacted by the explosion can be found here.

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3 Responses »

  1. Thank you firefighters and all first responders for providing us with protection.

  2. Wishing Scott, Ted and Larry continued progress toward recovery and return to home.

  3. Continuing to pray for the three men still in the hospital, and praying for their families also .