Franklin Countys First News

Selectmen establish donation account for sister city Lac-Mégantic

Fire fighters battle the blaze in Lac Megantic, Quebec, after a train carrying crude oil detrailed and set the town on fire Saturday morning. (All photos by Farmington Fire Rescue Department)

Fire fighters battle the blaze in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, after a runaway train, with its tanker cars seen flipped and stacked above and carrying crude oil, derailed and set the town on fire Saturday morning. (Photo by Farmington Fire Rescue Department)

FARMINGTON - At Tuesday's meeting, selectmen decided to give $500 and open a bank account  for people who would like to help the town of Lac-Mégantic, following the devastating fire that leveled 30 buildings there and killed dozens of people on Saturday. Since 1991, Farmington has been the sister city of Lac-Mégantic.

"We're all very devastated by what's happened," said Selectman Chair Ryan Morgan. He then asked those present at the meeting for a moment of silence to remember the victims of the fire that took many lives.

The massive fire began early Saturday morning after a 73-car runaway train carrying 2 million gallons of crude oil derailed in the downtown area of Lac-Mégantic. The derailment caused multiple fiery explosions and widespread damage. Officials don't yet know the total number of fatalities, but 15 have been confirmed dead with another possible 40 missing in this town of 6,000 located 20 miles north of the Maine border at Coburn Gore.

Thirty Franklin County fire fighters from the towns of Farmington, Eustis, Rangeley, Phillips, Strong, New Vineyard and Chesterville brought trucks and equipment north after a request came from Quebec for help fighting the blaze.

Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell told selectmen at their Tuesday night meeting, his crew arrived 6:30 Saturday morning in Lac-Mégantic after being waived through at the U.S.-Canada border.

"It was raining and you could see black smoke from quite a distance," he said. In the downtown, the train's tank-like cars, each carrying 30,000 gallons, were flipped over and his crew was assigned to keep spraying water on them to keep them cool and from exploding.

He noted the surrealistic devastation of half the town next to an untouched, empty café with drinks still left sitting on the table, evidence of patrons running in panic towards safety.

"You know when you see that there's been a loss of life," Bell said. He doesn't speak French so it appeared at times to be "hectic," he said, but everyone managed to worked together. The American firefighters were well taken care of with, at one point, food that had been prepared for a wedding that day.

"I'd love to go back to help out again," he said, if the call comes. "They were glad to see us."  The scene "looked like a bomb went off, a war zone. All the roads were on fire," Bell said. The Farmington crew returned late Saturday night. At the border, the fire fighters were asked to list their names and birth dates, to make sure everyone is accounted for, Bell said, but otherwise, they were waived through and thanked.

"A lot of people want to do something," Morgan said. A commemorative Lac-Mégantic flag sat on the table as selectmen voted to kick in $500 from the board's "discretionary fund," which totals $3,000, to start a bank account for people who want to help out. The account will be started at TD Bank at 163 Broadway in Farmington and called, "The Lac-Mégantic Relief Fund," which those donors giving should indicate when dropping off or sending in their gift.  Any donations will go to the municipality to help it in its rebuilding efforts.

"There's been a tremendous outpouring of affection," Morgan said, "this gives an avenue." Another idea is The Canadian Red Cross for donations specifically going to Lac-Mégantic's needs and can be found here: http://www.redcross.ca/donate/donate-online/donate-to-the-fund-explosion-lac-megantic?lang=en-ca

The aerial photo of Lac Megantic hangs in the municipal building conference room where selectmen hold theri meetings.

This aerial photo of Lac-Mégantic hangs in the Farmington Municipal Building's  conference room where selectmen hold their meetings. Most of the devastation occurred from center to the left of the photo. In some of the photos below, you can see the cathedral's spires looking north in the smoky distance.

Below are photographs taken by members of the Farmington Fire Rescue Department in Lac-Mégantic on Saturday:

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He noted the surrealistic devastation of half the town next to an untouched, empty café with drinks still left sitting on the table, evidence of patrons running in panic towards safety.

Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell noted the surrealistic devastation of half the town next to an untouched, empty café with drinks still left sitting on the table, evidence of patrons running in panic towards safety.

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The historical marker of the agreement for Farmington and Lac Meganic to become sister cities in 1991 sits in Meetinghouse Park.

The historical marker of the proclamation of Farmington and Lac Meganic to become sister cities in 1991 sits in Meetinghouse Park.

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7 Responses »

  1. It is such a sad time for the epople of Lac Megantic and they need all our prayers and help to heal from this terrible tragedy and the loss of so many lives. Please keep them in your prayers.

  2. Thank you the Farmington Selectman, Farmington Fire Rescue and others who came to assit our sister community in the time of great sadness, tragedy and enormous need of support. Thank you all for your compassionate response to a community still amidst finding their family members.

  3. Yesterday a friend of mine from PEI Canada came up to me and thanked me for the town's outpouring of help. Even though she is Canadian, she has lived and worked in the USA for nearly 15 years and considers herself as part of both countries. She was so impressed with all the Franklin county fire fighters and citizens had done, she was nearly in tears. It was great to hear, especially since she was not even from P.Q. Again thanks to all.

  4. Such a tragic event for Lac-Megantic Farmington's Sister City.

  5. Not to detract from the praise of the firefighters and all that, but this is the first time I've actually read that plaque all the way through (the one in the bottom picture), and, well, isn't there a mistake in the French? Shouldn't "ON MIT" be "ONT MIS"? ("The people ... have put in writing" not "The people ... one puts in writing").

  6. perfect time and place for a french lesson...

  7. Such a perfect way to express our solidarity with our Canadian cousins! Thanks for Farmington for setting up a good approach for us to help!

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