The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration has opened inspections of four businesses related to the deadly propane explosion Sept. 16 at the LEAP Inc. building in Farmington.

FARMINGTON — Federal investigators have opened inspections of four employers working Sept. 16 at the site of a deadly propane explosion at the LEAP Inc. office building on Farmington Falls Road, according to a spokesperson for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The businesses are LEAP Inc., a nonprofit social service agency; Techno Metal Post Maine of Manchester; CN Brown Co., a fuel supplier in Farmington; and Cornerstone Plumbing & Heating in Farmington, according to OSHA.

The purpose of the inspections is to determine which OSHA safety and health standards apply in this situation and whether the employers complied with those standards, according to the spokesperson.

The OSHA representative said Thursday the agency does not discuss specifics of ongoing inspections but can inform the public of the inspections’ outcomes.

OSHA has up to six months to complete the inspections.

“We do not have an estimated completion date at this time,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

OSHA’s jurisdiction is employee safety in private-sector and federal workplaces. Nonfederal public employees in Maine are covered by the Maine Department of Labor.

OSHA is part of the U.S. Department of Labor.

The explosion killed Farmington Fire Rescue Capt. Michael Bell, 68, and injured six other firefighters and LEAP’s maintenance supervisor, Larry Lord. All of the surviving firefighters have been released from hospitals. Lord’s condition was downgraded from fair to serious Thursday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Firefighters from the Farmington Fire Rescue Department responded to a report of propane odor Sept. 16 at LEAP’s central office at 313 Farmington Falls Road. Prior to their arrival, Lord, 60, of Jay got employees out of the building after he smelled propane.

The Maine Fire Marshal’s Office said a propane line buried under the parking lot, which led from a 400-gallon tank at the rear of the property to the basement of the building, had developed a leak. Investigators said the leaking gas “permeated the ground under the parking lot and some of that gas made its way into the basement.”

“Normally, propane has a distinctive odor from an additive added to the fuel, but investigators think that odor may have been filtered by the soil under the parking lot, ” according to the state Fire Marshal’s Office.

The investigation into what caused the leak and what sparked the explosion is ongoing.


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