November 16, 2019
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Nonprofit displaced after Farmington explosion offered free office space

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
A building explosion Monday morning on Route 2 in Farmington destroyed other homes and scattered debris for more than a mile.

The nonprofit serving adults with developmental disabilities whose offices in Farmington were destroyed in a gas explosion on Monday will relocate temporarily to nearby Wilton.

Scott Landry, a Democrat who represents Farmington in the Maine House and serves on LEAP Inc.’s board, and Randall Hall, a Republican who represents Wilton in the Maine House, said Thursday that Western Maine Development Group has offered free space for LEAP’s use in the former Barclays space.

Barclays announced in January 2019 that its call center there would close on March 31, eliminating more than 200 jobs. The building was leased to Barclays by the Western Maine Development Group, owned by Gil Reed and Mark Berry. The organization is offering the space to LEAP on a month-to-month basis, and LEAP will cover the cost of utilities and other expenses.

“I am so grateful for the generous gift that has been given to LEAP Inc. Western Maine Development Group and the Wilton community has stepped up in an incredible way. LEAP has but a few laptops and odds and ends to take into this facility, but they are strong, determined, and ready to get back to work. I am so proud of the resilience of my neighbors and the support our Franklin County community provides one another,” Landry said in a statement.

[Fire captain who died in Farmington blast followed his father into service]

An explosion leveled LEAP’s central offices at 313 Farmington Falls Road — also known as Route 2 — just after 8 a.m. Monday. The powerful explosion could be heard from as far away as Livermore, which is more than 30 miles southwest.

The blast killed Farmington fire Capt. Michael Bell, 68, a 30-year veteran of the department, and injured six other firefighters, three of whom — Michael Bell’s brother, Chief Terry Bell; Capt. Scott Baxter; and his father, Theodore Baxter — were listed in critical condition Wednesday at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Capt. Timothy Hardy’s condition has been upgraded to “satisfactory,” and Joseph Hastings has been discharged, the hospital said Wednesday afternoon. A sixth, Deputy fire Chief Clyde Ross, was treated and released from a Farmington hospital on Monday. The building’s maintenance manager, Larry Lord of Jay, was still in critical condition Thursday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, a spokeswoman said.

The firefighters had been called to LEAP’s offices for a propane leak. An investigation into the blast is ongoing.

[Larry Lord was called a hero after Farmington explosion. That didn’t surprise those who know him.]

“Times like this show how we care for our neighbors in a time of need with prayers and support. Our local communities, the State of Maine, and the Western Maine Development Group are there for those affected by the tragedy in Farmington,” Hall said in a statement.

 



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