One person was killed and four injured after an explosion and fire leveled a duplex on Feb. 12, 2013 at 29-31 Bluff Road in Bath. (File photo)

BATH — A propane explosion that killed a veteran fire captain in Farmington Monday has some people in Bath recalling an explosion six years ago that leveled a house in that city, killing an occupant and leaving some questions unanswered to this day. 

In Farmington, Fire Capt. Michael Bell, 68, was killed in the blast that destroyed LEAP Inc.’s newly expanded office building. The explosion injured eight other people and leveled 11 nearby mobile homes. 

In the Midcoast, yesterday’s incident brought back memories of a February 2013 explosion at Atlantic Townhouse Apartments in Hyde Park in Bath. That blast destroyed the duplex at 29 Bluff Road and killed the tenant, 64-year-old Dale Fussell. 

The Atlantic Townhouse Apartments are nestled in a small neighborhood between Congress Avenue and Centre Street. 

“It literally was a bomb … like a huge bomb going off under this home in this tight neighborhood,” former fire chief Steve Hinds said in 2014. “There’s pieces of this building strewn all the way to the overpass on High Street. There’s pieces of burning debris, reports coming in all over the community of Bath. All over.” 

He recalled arriving to find people lying in the street with cuts on their feet, cars on fire and pieces of what used to be a building on top of the Shaw’s Supermarket about 500 feet away. There were clothes hanging from the nearby tree. 

The explosion blew out windows in a quarter-mile radius and sent four people to the hospital with minor injuries. 

The state fire marshal’s office found leaked propane had filled the crawl space beneath the building before a spark set off the explosion. 

Sgt. Ken Grimes with the state fire marshal’s office said at the time that fire investigators didn’t know what caused the leak or the spark, but said it could have been caused by any kind of home electrical connection.  

It appeared that no criminal charges were ever filed, but Fussell’s family did take legal action. 

Their attorney, Terry Garmey, told The Times Record in the days following Fussell’s death that he had served intent-to-sue paperwork with the property owner of Atlantic Townhouse Apartments, EWT LLC 7; the property manager, Keystone Management; as well as the propane supplier, Irving Oil.  

“The parties entered into a confidential settlement, pre-suit,” Garmey said Monday, and declined to comment on any details of the settlement. 

“Nothing will replace the loss of a mother, but the settlement brought a measure of much-needed closure to the family,” he said. 

A call to Atlantic Townhouse Apartments was not immediately returned Monday seeking information about what the company has done to avoid propane leaks like the one that killed Fussell. 

Bath Fire Chief Lawrence Renaud said since the tragedy, the fire department has reviewed how it responds to propane emergencies. “We respond to a lot of propane incidents over the course of our careers,” he said. 

The explosion Monday made Bath City Council Chairwoman Mari Eosco question how the city responds to that type of calamity as well. 

“Are we prepared for incidents like that? she said. “And I do think we are, for isolated incidents like that, but it brings up that bigger question. Are we prepared for a community-wide incident. 

She also pointed to the October 2017 windstorm that knocked out power far and wide in the Midcoast and blocked roads, as well as other potential disasters. 

“How are we prepared to be helping the citizens and making sure that the government is still functioning?” she said. 

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