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Farmington explosion lawsuit settled, victims and families hope for closure

The settlement for the six firefighters and the family of Captain Michael Bell was reached in recent weeks, according to an attorney.

FARMINGTON, Maine — A lawsuit on behalf of firefighters involved in the deadly Farmington explosion has been settled two years after the incident, according to an attorney. 

Six firefighters and the estate of Captain Michael Bell settled with C.N. Brown Company of South Paris and Techno Metal Post Maine of Manchester. No other details about the settlement were shared publicly.  

The lawsuit claimed negligence by both companies. Bell was the one person killed in the September 2019 blast.

“While the settlement of the civil case ends the court action, the firefighters, especially the family of Michael Bell, will live with the effects of this tragic event forever," Walter McKee told NEWS CENTER Maine in a statement Tuesday.

An investigation by the State Fire Marshal's Office found the explosion was caused by a gas line severed when posts were drilled into the ground, and the gas company's technician failed to do a required pressure check when refilling the emptied tank.

LEAP Incorporated, the organization that has just opened the building, was added to the lawsuit after it was filed. 

There was agreement among the parties that the case be dismissed permanently and cannot be brought back to court.

Attorney Steven Silin of Berman and Simmons confirmed Tuesday that a separate suit filed by the family of Larry Lord was settled in May.

Lord was a maintenance man at LEAP Inc. who was seriously injured in the explosion, with burns over 85% of his body. 

“After a long and difficult process, we are pleased to have successfully settled the case on behalf of the Lord family," Silin said in a statement. "It has been a privilege representing these wonderful members of our Maine community and we ask everyone to respect their clear wish that no further attention be drawn to them as they endeavor to get on with their lives.”

The owner of a Farmington mobile home park and other nearby residences filed another lawsuit against the companies and the nonprofit in November.