Third Maine firefighter released from hospital, two others improved

Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell was upgraded from critical condition to fair condition, and Capt. Scott Baxter was upgraded from critical to serious condition


By Donna M. Perry
Sun Journal, Lewiston, Maine

FARMINGTON, Maine — Farmington Fire Rescue firefighter Theodore “Ted” Baxter, 64, was discharged from a Portland hospital Monday afternoon, one week after a deadly explosion at the LEAP building on Route 2 killed Capt. Michael A. Bell and injured six firefighters and a LEAP maintenance worker.

A procession of emergency vehicles was expected to escort Baxter to the Fire Department on Monday night, according to the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office.

An aerial view of the devastation after an explosion at the Life Enrichment Advancing People (LEAP) building, in Farmington, Maine, killed one firefighter and injured multiple other people. (Photo/Russ Dillingham, Sun Journal via AP)
An aerial view of the devastation after an explosion at the Life Enrichment Advancing People (LEAP) building, in Farmington, Maine, killed one firefighter and injured multiple other people. (Photo/Russ Dillingham, Sun Journal via AP)

Fire Rescue Chief Terry Bell, 62, was upgraded from critical condition to fair condition Monday, and Capt. Scott Baxter, 37, was upgraded from critical to serious condition, according to Caroline Cornish, spokeswoman for the Portland hospital.

Fire Capt. Tim “TD” Hardy, 40, Deputy Chief Clyde Ross and firefighter Joseph Hastings, 24, were released from hospitals last week.

LEAP maintenance supervisor Larry Lord, 60, of Jay remains in critical condition at a Massachusetts hospital.

Capt. Bell’s family will hold a private, graveside service at a future date. His three daughters, Michelle Fish, Danielle Flannery and Sara Bell, issued a public letter to media on Saturday.

“Our family is rather private, so it’s been challenging for us to navigate our father’s passing because he lost his life in such a tragic, public way. He was a very humble man, so in keeping with his wishes our family plans to mourn him in private,” according to the letter.

They wrote that while they have chosen to mourn privately, they recognize the need to for others to honor him.

“He was not only our father, but also a public servant, a member of the close-knit community of Farmington and part of a larger brotherhood of firefighters and first responders,” they wrote.

With the family’s full support, the Farmington Fire Rescue Department, in coordination with the Maine State Police Honor Guard and its Information and Analysis Center teams, and the fire chiefs’ Local Assistance State Team, which is a part of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation response team, will organize a public tribute after all of the injured have returned home and are able to participate, according to the letter.

Bell’s daughters expressed gratitude for what they witnessed Sept. 17 on their drive to bring their father from the state medical examiner’s office in Augusta to Farmington. “We were amazed at the public outpouring of support and were comforted by what we saw,” they wrote.

The family also expressed their gratitude for the support that has been shown from the Honor Guard, Maine State Police, emergency responders, people lining the streets, Farmington Police Department, Fire Department, Franklin County dispatchers, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, emergency medical service providers, businesses and greater Farmington community members, and others who have helped, called, sent kind messages and made heartfelt gestures, among other contributions.

“On behalf of our mother Diana Bell, and our entire family, we want to offer our love and support to the Firefighters, LEAP maintenance supervisor and families of all those who were injured or displaced on Monday (Sept. 16),” according to the family. “Many of these people are our family and friends. Please pray for them all. Their road to physical and emotional recovery will be long and they need support.”

According to Michael Bell’s obituary, he “was understated and unassuming in nature. He preferred less fanfare, no fuss. In keeping with these traits, he wanted a simple and private arrangement at his passing. It was his humble way of protecting his wife, children and grandsons and allowing them time to grieve,” according to his obituary. The family mourned him privately at the Wiles Remembrance Center: Adams McFarlane Chapel, 137 Farmington Falls Road, Farmington. Following cremation, private family graveside services will be held at Fairview Cemetery, Farmington, at some future date when his family and ‘firefighter family’ members are healed, rested and able to attend.

People are invited to visit his memorial wall to leave a message of condolence at www.wilescremationcare.com/obituaries/Michael-Bell-25/.

Bell would have turned 69 on Sept. 30.

Lord’s condition was upgraded from critical to serious during the weekend, but was changed to back critical Monday, according to a representative of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was burned on over 50% of his body.

He had ushered nearly a dozen LEAP Inc. employees out of the building to safety prior to firefighters arriving at the site. He is expected to be in the hospital for four months.

A Lord family friend, Courtney Webster, updated the GoFundMe page she organized for Lord on Sunday. It has surpassed $100,000.

“I know everyone’s anxiously awaiting an update on Larry and although I wish I had lots of positive updates to give you, there simply isn’t much to update at this time,” she wrote. “Larry continues to make positive strides every day, and as with any trial or tribulation, we’re handling the setbacks as they come. Larry continues to fight and we’re fighting along side him.”

“Of course, your thoughts and prayers are not only appreciated, but working miracles, and will be a vital piece of Larry’s healing in the months to come. The strength Larry shows everyday is uplifting and inspirational,” Webster wrote.

“Many of you have asked what you can do to help. Larry’s nurse has suggested that we reach out to our community and suggest blood donations. It’s the end of the summer and blood banks’ supplies are diminishing. Patients like Larry really count on these supplies, as they can make all the difference in an urgent situation. We are working on a blood drive in support of Larry and we’ll keep everyone posted as a plan comes together,” according to Webster.

Bell received his education in Farmington schools and graduated from Farmington High School in 1968, according to his obituary. The fire service was a huge part of Bell’s life for 35 years.

His early years were spent in the grocery industry and he later joined his father in the plumbing business, locally known as Jack Bell and Son Plumbing.

He and Diana were married Oct. 17, 1970. They raised three daughters and have four grandsons.

Capt. Bell “was active in the community serving as a volunteer on Mexico Fire Department and various committees in the early 1980s and returned to his hometown of Farmington in 1989. It was then he joined the Farmington Fire Department and worked his way up the ranks to captain as his father, Jack, and brother, Terry did before him,” according to the obituary.

He semiretired from the plumbing business to spend more time with his family. Most recently he worked part-time on the Fire Department. Bell liked football and was a Patriots fan. He loved the outdoors and loved to watch his grandsons’ athletic activities.

“He enjoyed helping people and he loved being a firefighter,” according to the obituary.

His family has suggested in lieu of flowers, that remembrance gifts may be given to the Farmington Firemen’s Benevolent Association, c/0 Farmington Fire Rescue Department, 153 Farmington Falls Road, Farmington, ME 04938.

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©2019 the Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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