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FARMINGTON, Maine — When Stephen Gould heard about the explosion at the LEAP Inc. building on Monday, he said he was “sick to his stomach” — because he knew Larry Lord would be at the scene, doing his job.
“I figured if it involved his building, his responsibility, he would have been right there, overseeing that things were done the way they were supposed to be and that everyone was safe,” said Gould, the town manager of Livermore Falls.
Lord, who lives in Jay, was airlifted to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after the two-story building housing LEAP exploded after a propane leak around 8 a.m. Monday. Lord is the maintenance supervisor at LEAP and was credited by officials with saving the lives of LEAP employees when he alerted people to the smell of gas prior to the explosion and helped evacuate them.
Scott Landry, a Farmington selectman, state representative and board member of LEAP, called him a hero Monday afternoon.
On Tuesday, Farmington Police Chief Jack Peck Jr. said during a news conference that without Lord’s actions, the incident “would have been a much more horrific tragedy.”
For those who know him, Lord’s actions were not surprising at all.
“As long as I’ve known him, Larry did his job to the best of his ability, always,” Gould said. “I don’t recall him ever shirking his responsibilities.”
Lord was the only LEAP employee reported injured in the incident. One firefighter, Capt. Michael Bell, was killed, and six others were hurt during the blast, including Bell’s brother, Chief Terry Bell; Capt. Timothy Hardy; Capt. Scott Baxter; his father, Theodore Baxter; Joseph Hastings; and Deputy Fire Chief Clyde Ross.
Lord suffered “severe burns on over half his body, multiple traumas, broken bones and critical injuries,” Courtney Webster, a family friend of the Lords, said on a GoFundMe page dedicated to raising money for the family.
In addition to his work at LEAP, Lord works as the animal control officer in Livermore Falls, where Gould has been town manager for two years. But Gould said his relationship with Lord dates back 40 years and that he’s known Lord’s wife, Sandy, for “most of my life.” The two worked at the Wausau Paper mill in Jay before it closed in 2009.
Gould described Lord as a welcoming, caring person who “puts others before himself.” In his spare time, Lord is a talented woodworker who builds canoes and bowls, and an avid sportsman who loves the outdoors.
Those qualities make him well suited for his animal control job, Gould said. Lord always prioritizes the health and well-being of the animals and people with whom he works. And if he is in over his head, Lord never hesitates to get more people involved to solve a problem, Gould said.
“If we have something that needs to be discussed, we are able to talk it out, even though we might not agree,” Gould said.
Talks have never risen to the level of confrontation — and Lord has always brought his best self to the job, he said.
“Nothing he did stands out as exceptional because he always did his best job,” Gould said.