Deputy Director Tammy Barker, left, and Director Michael Smith of the Somerset County Regional Communications Center in Skowhegan meet Tuesday with Franklin County commissioners at the county courthouse in Farmington. Franklin County Clerk Julie Magoon, right, looks on. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

FARMINGTON — The director and deputy director of Somerset County Regional Communications Center in Skowhegan are overseeing daily operations at Franklin County’s Regional Communications Center for two weeks because of a staffing shortage, Commission Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton said Tuesday.

Somerset County made the offer after the Sept. 16 propane explosion at LEAP Inc.’s central office building on Farmington Falls Road.

The two-week agreement was effective Friday.

Somerset County Director Michael Smith and Deputy Director Tammy Barker went to the county communications center in Farmington this past weekend and attended Tuesday’s commission meeting.

Franklin County Director Carold “CL” Folsom is on leave, county Clerk Julie Magoon said, and several other employees have requested leaves. Also, a supervisor’s position is vacant, she said.

“We’re just trying to be proactive,” she said late Tuesday afternoon by phone.


Smith and Barker will fill in for staffers and help with requests, including from some media organizations asking for transcripts for 911 calls made Sept. 16.

The explosion killed Fire Rescue Capt. Michael Bell and injured his brother, Chief Terry Bell, Deputy Chief Clyde Ross, Capt. Scott Baxter, Capt. Tim “TD” Hardy, firefighters Theodore “Ted” Baxter, who is Scott Baxter’s father, and Joseph Hastings, and LEAP maintenance supervisor Larry Lord.

Lord remained in critical condition Tuesday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Chief Bell remained in fair condition and Capt. Baxter remained in serious condition at Maine Medical Center in Portland. Hardy, Ted Baxter, Hastings and Ross have been released from hospitals.

A C.N. Brown propane tank appears in one piece several days after the Sept. 16 explosion at LEAP Inc.’s central office building in Farmington. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

The Office of the Maine State Fire Marshal announced Friday that the explosion was caused by a leak in a propane line under the paved parking lot. The line went from an outside propane tank at the rear of the property, under the parking lot and into the basement of the building.

The tank was filled with nearly 400 gallons of propane Sept. 13 by South Paris-based CN Brown Co., which owned the tank. It was empty the morning of Sept. 16 when Lord and a second LEAP employee examined. It remained in tact after the explosion.

Investigators continue to search for the reason the line was damaged and what sparked the propane to explode, according to a news release from Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety.


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