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Maine Fire Marshal's Office Says Leak In Propane Line Caused Farmington Explosion

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BRIAN BECHARD
/
Maine Public
The scene of an explosion in Farmington on Monday.

The state Fire Marshal says an explosion in Farmington that destroyed a social services agency earlier this month was caused by a leak in a propane line. Though the cause has been identified, the investigation into the blast is still not over.

According to the state Fire Marshal's office, a propane tank outside the newly renovated building for the non profit LEAP had been filled with 400 gallons of propane the Friday before the explosion. By Monday, the tank was empty.

Fire Marshal Joe Thomas says the propane leaked into the ground from a buried line under the parking lot, but may have been difficult to detect.

"The soil can have the ability of scrubbing that odor from the gas,” he says. “And basically that removes the smell, so you can have a gas build up and not have that typical rotten egg smell.”

Thomas says his office is still investigating how the line was damaged and what ignited the blast. One firefighter was killed and seven others were injured, including maintenance worker Larry Lord, who is at Mass General Hospital in critical condition.

Two firefighters are still being treated at Maine Medical Center in Portland. The explosion also left 30 people who lived nearby homeless.

Originally published Sept. 27, 2019.