FARMINGTON — Selectmen tonight agreed to open an account for residents to donate money to Farmington’s sister city of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, whose residents are recovering from the crash of a runaway train of oil tankers.

Selectmen also voted to seed the fund with $500.

Town Manager Richard Davis said the Lac-Megantic Relief Fund will be open tomorrow at TD Bank where people can donate money into the account for Lac-Megantic officials to use at their discretion. Davis said a general account will be more useful than specific donations because they do not know what the town needs.

“We know that they have needs, we just don’t know what those needs are,” he said.

Early Saturday, a 72-car tanker train loaded with oil derailed, exploded and burned, destroying dozens of business and homes. The Associated Press reported the death toll has climbed to 15, with dozens more bodies feared buried in the burned-out ruins and thousands displaced.

Davis said much of Lac-Megantic’s infrastructure is destroyed, including its historical society and downtown, and Farmington Fire Chief Terry Bell reported the asphalt on the much of the roads had melted.

Chairman Ryan Morgan said people have stopped him on the street and emailed him since the disaster Saturday, asking him what they could do to help the town.

Morgan said he left a message with Lac-Megantic city officials, encouraging them to ask Farmington for any assistance needed.

Davis said he will send a letter to the Farmington Fire Department, commending it for being one of seven municipalities in Franklin County who sent firefighters to the scene after receiving a call for assistance around 4:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Lac-Megantic is about 10 miles over the border from Franklin County.

Farmington and Lac-Megantic became sister cities in 1991, Morgan said, in part, because of their similar town layout and populations, which are 7,700 and 6,000 respectively.

Town Clerk Linda Grant said Farmington resident Paul Flagg led the movement to form the partnership 22 years ago, so the two could share cultures and economic growth.

Delegations from Farmington have occasionally visited the city 93 miles away since the beginning of the partnership, but little has been done in recent years. Last month he began researching ways to renew outreach efforts between the communities.

He predicted that the train derailment and fire, while a tragedy, would serve as a catalyst to renew the connection between the two cities.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252
[email protected]

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