AUGUSTA — The House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to include liquefied propane gas in Maine’s Dig Safe law.

The addition is in response to last year’s propane explosion in Farmington that killed one firefighter, injured six others and a building supervisor.

The Senate, which gave its first approval last week, is expected to take up the bill for the second and final time next week, Katie Walsh, communications director for House Democrats, said Thursday.

It would then go to Gov. Janet Mills.

If approved, the changes would go into effect immediately.

The roll call in the House was 142 yeas, with no one opposed. Six lawmakers were absent, one was excused. Two positions are vacant.

This being an emergency measure, a two-thirds vote of all the members elected to the House was necessary, according to  Legislature.Maine.gov/Lawmaker Web/dockets page on LD 1892, “An Act To Make Changes to the So-called Dig Safe Law. Rep. Seth Berry, D-Bowdoinham, submitted the bill, which is co-sponsored by Sen. Russell Black, R-Wilton, and Rep. H. Scott Landry, D-Farmington, in response to the Sept. 16, 2019 explosion at LEAP Inc.’s building in Farmington.

Farmington Fire Rescue Capt. Michael Bell was killed in the blast, which also seriously or critically injured six other firefighters and LEAP’s maintenance supervisor. The explosion left about 30 people homeless and affected nearby businesses.

The Legislature’s Energy, Utilities and Technology Committee advanced the bill in early February.

Findings from the Office of Maine State Fire Marshal released Jan. 24 revealed the explosion was ignited days after an underground propane line was severed during the installation of one of four bollards, or safety posts, drilled into the ground near the building, according to a statement released by Stephen McCausland, spokesman for the Maine Department of Public Safety, at the time.

Investigators concluded the propane leaked from the severed line and led to the explosion that leveled the LEAP Inc. building at 313 Farmington Falls Road, according to the statement.


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