Governor Mills: If you see a first responder, please give them a hug and thank them for the service they perform for the people of Maine.

September 20, 2019

It has been a tough week for the town of Farmington and for the state of Maine.

Good morning, I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.

At about 8:07 Monday morning, Farmington firefighters responded to a report of a smell of propane in the Life Enrichment Advancing People (LEAP) office building, a brand new building, on the Farmington Falls Road in Farmington.

LEAP maintenance worker Larry Lord evacuated employees from the building. Firefighters were investigating inside when the building exploded moments later. Larry Lord’s actions undoubtedly saved many lives.

We lost a brave firefighter - Captain Michael Bell of Farmington- while others, including Larry Lord, and our Police Chief Terry Bell, brother of Michael Bell, remain hospitalized.

You know, I was born and raised in Farmington, and it’s my home still. I know the Bell family and I have a great deal of respect for every one of them.

Captain Michael Bell served our community with dedication for 30 years. His loss is one that is deeply felt by the greater Farmington community.

In times of tragedy I sometimes think about Fred Rogers, you know Mr. Rogers, who said “....Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

Firefighters from as far away as Saco are on-site in Farmington to help our community. Office space for LEAP employees has been donated by the Western Maine Development Group. The Red Cross is organizing a blood drive next Wednesday, September 25th at the University of Maine at Farmington from noon to 5 p.m. And, people are fundraising to help the families and the people displaced by the explosion.

I am deeply grateful for all of the efforts to help our community heal and I hope you will also consider helping in whatever way you can.

In the meantime, the investigation into the cause and origin of this explosion is underway. I have directed the Fire Marshal’s office to do as much as they can, as soon as they can to determine the cause of this tragic explosion.

While this was a terrible event for the town of Farmington and for our broader community, I am confident that we will emerge from this as a stronger community, a stronger state, and a stronger people because that is who we are as Mainers.

I hope that you will join me in offering hopes, thoughts and prayers for the full recovery of those injured.

And, by the way, if you see a first responder, please give them a hug and thank them for the service they perform for the people of Maine.

I am Governor Janet Mills. Thank you for listening.