FARMINGTON — As the investigation of Monday’s deadly explosion at an office building continued Wednesday, three firefighters remained in critical condition and one was released from the hospital.

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

Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell, 62, Capt. Scott Baxter, 37, and his father, firefighter Theodore “Ted” Baxter, 64, were being treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland, according to information provided by the hospital.

Capt. Michael Bell, 68, was killed in the blast that flattened the building and damaged 11 nearby mobile homes. Six firefighters and the maintenance supervisor were injured. In addition to Terry Bell and the Baxters, the injured are Capt. Timothy “TD” Hardy, 40; firefighter Joseph Hastings, 24; Chief Deputy S. Clyde Ross; and maintenance supervisor Larry Lord.

According to posts on Facebook by relatives, Hardy has been moved out of the intensive care unit at Maine Med.

“We can’t begin to thank EVERYONE enough for the kind words, support in many ways and phenomenal care all around,” Hardy’s wife, Bett, wrote in an update. “Please keep your thoughts and prayers with the Bell families, Baxter family, the Lord family and all the other responders as they fight and heal physically and emotionally. The communities’ support means more than we could ever express – thank you all and please keep that positive energy coming.”

Gregg Toothaker, maintenance person for Western Maine Development walks through office space in Wilton on Wednesday afternoon. The office space, formerly occupied by Barclaycard, has been offered to LEAP to use by Western Maine Development after an explosion in Farmington destroyed LEAP’s building. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

Lord, who got employees out of the building before the 8:28 a.m. blast apparently caused by a propane leak, remained in critical condition Wednesday morning at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Hastings was released from Maine Medical Center on Wednesday, according to a Facebook post. He was escorted into town by a procession of firetrucks and emergency vehicles.

“Right now I will not need skin grafts and we’re hoping my ear drums will heal up in time without surgery,” Hastings wrote. “Thank you all for the outpouring of good wishes and messages. Please know that as much as I wish I just can’t respond to every message. TD (Hardy) is currently moved into my room as a bunk mate so we’re keeping each other in good spirits. To the firefighter family near and far – Thank you all.”

Hastings added, “The Baxters and Bells still need your full support as they are not out of the woods yet. Thank you all and much love.”

Ross was treated at a local hospital Monday and released.

Crews were restoring power and cable lines Wednesday on U.S. Route 2 near the site of Monday’s explosion in Farmington. The road reopened Tuesday night. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

Firefighters responded to a report of a smell of propane at the building at about 8:07 a.m. Monday. They were in the building when the explosion occurred minutes later.

The Maine Department of Transportation reopened Route 2 at the site of the blast Tuesday night and utility workers were fixing power and cable lines Wednesday in front of the site at 313 Farmington Falls Road (Route 2).

RENT-FREE OFFICE BUILDING OFFERED

Life Enrichment Advancing People, which occupied the building, has been offered rent-free office space by Western Maine Development on Weld Road (Route 156) in Wilton, according to WMTW Channel 8. LEAP is a nonprofit that works with people with developmental and cognitive disabilities.

Gil Reed, who owns the development company with Mark Berry, said they are in the process of drawing up terms of the lease for the 15,000-square-foot building, which will be a month-to-month occupancy, according to WMTW.

The building in Wilton is where Barclaycard was located. LEAP will be required to pay only the utilities. The location is move-in ready.

Reed said he and Berry wanted to do something for the community and that LEAP is “in pretty bad need right now,” according to the report.

 

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