FARMINGTON — A family living at the mobile home park behind a building that exploded Monday morning made it out seconds before the side of its house collapsed.

Scott MacLean, one of 30 people who lost homes in the blast, started his day playing video games in the living room with his younger brother, Jacob when chaos erupted outside their mobile home.

The explosion, which he described as a “sandstorm,” was followed by a large boom and flying glass.

In the next seconds, MacLean scrambled to check on his brother, who had left the room, and his girlfriend, Kelsey Parlin, who was asleep in the bedroom. She escaped just before the wall of the house collapsed onto the bed.

“We all got out with just scrapes and no major injuries,” MacLean said. “This has just been traumatic.”

The explosion apparently was caused by a propane gas leak. The building was owned by LEAP, which stands for Life Enrichment Advancing People, a nonprofit that provides services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The building was evacuated because of a strong odor of gas at 8:07 a.m., and the explosion happened at 8:28, with firefighters in the building. Capt. Michael Bell, 68, was killed by the blast, and seven others were injured.

Six were firefighters and one, Larry Lord of Jay, is a LEAP employee. One firefighter, Deputy Fire Chief Clyde Ross, was treated at and released from Franklin Memorial Hospital on Monday.

Five firefighters were being treated for serious injuries at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Lord was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, where he was listed in critical condition.

An aerial view of the devastation after an apparently accidental explosion at the Life Enrichment Advancing People (LEAP) building, 313 Farmington Falls Road, in Farmington, Maine killed one firefighter and injured seven other people, including a NorthStar Ambulance employee on Monday morning September 16, 2019. The injured have been transported to multiple hospitals in Maine and Massachusetts. Russ Dillingham/Sun Journal

The explosion flattened the entire LEAP facility and destroyed the 11 homes in an adjacent mobile home park.

According to MacLean’s landlord, Randy Dean, all 30 of the people who lived in the 11 homes have been displaced. While the properties are insured, Dean was concerned they are being forgotten in the wake of the devastation.

“Many of these people are living paycheck to paycheck,” Dean said. “I hope that they’re not forgotten in all of this.”

Following the explosion, MacLean gathered his brother and girlfriend and went searching for the family’s dog, which he later learned was with his mother, Betty. Once they all determined they were OK, MacLean led them outside. He waited on the side of his road for family to arrive and met with American Red Cross staff, who gave them money for food, shelter and clothing.

“We were only able to get back into the house to grab our safe,” MacLean said. “We were not allowed to grab anything else on our way out. We’re still not sure if we will be allowed back in to retrieve what is left.”

The American Red Cross said Tuesday it had been working with 10 people displaced by the explosion to ensure they have food and shelter. Dean’s concern, however, is these services are only extended for a few days and no long-term plan has been established.

“I am just thankful that all of my tenants do not have any serious injuries,” Dean said. “Many of them were home and present at the time of the explosion. My heart goes out to all of the first responders and families that have been affected by this devastation.”

For now, MacLean said he and his family are taking things day by day.

“Our priority is to find new housing,” he said. “(Dean) is looking to see if our trailer can be salvaged. Our permanent living situation is up in the air, and we are looking to find a home that will work for the five of us.”

The United Way of the Tri-Valley Area said Tuesday it had established a way to help those affected by the explosion. The United Way said it would direct any monetary donations directly to LEAP and those affected.

Donations can be made online at uwtva.org, or via mail at P.O. Box 126, Farmington, ME 04938, or at the United Way’s office at 218 Fairbanks Road in Farmington.

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