MONTVILLE — Two men critically injured Wednesday in a house explosion in the Waldo County town of Montville have died of their injuries, bringing the blast’s death toll to three, officials said Thursday.

Rocco Taddeo, 88, of Montville was found dead inside the house at 50 Darci Lane when firefighters arrived after the explosion was reported just before 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Shannon Moss, spokesperson for the Department of Public Safety, said in a statement.

Two other men, identified as Stuart Nichols, 74, and a relative, Robert Gorham, 78, of Buxton were found outside the destroyed house, according to Moss.

Three men have died as result of a house explosion Wednesday at 50 Darci Lane in Montville. Officials say a gas leak was the likely cause of the blast. Maine Office of State Fire Marshal photo

Nichols and Gorham were taken to Waldo County General Hospital in Belfast and later Maine Medical Center in Portland, where they died Thursday, Moss said.

Nichols owned the house and Taddeo was a neighbor, according to Moss. Gorham had retired in September as a lieutenant with Buxton Fire-Rescue, according to a post by Chief Nathan Schools on the department’s Facebook page.

Firefighters from the Montville Fire Department and several other fire departments worked to extinguish the blaze, which allowed crews to remove Taddeo from the debris, according to Moss.


Taddeo’s body was taken to the Office of Chief Medical Examiner in Augusta, where an examination was conducted Thursday. Taddeo died of injuries suffered during the blast and fire, Moss said.

Nichols had recently acquired a used propane-powered cooking stove for his kitchen, according to Moss.

“His home also included other propane-powered appliances,” Moss said in the statement. “The investigation established one of Nichols’ appliances was experiencing a gas leak. Nichols and Gorham were on the outside of the residence while Taddeo was inside attempting to light the stove. The explosion threw Nichols and Gorham away from the residence into some nearby trees.”

Schools of Buxton Fire-Rescue wrote in his Facebook post that Gorham had worked for the town for 39 years.

“He was one of those men that would drop anything to help someone in need,” Schools wrote, adding Gorham “would often show up at fire and EMS calls lending a hand in any way he could.”

Buxton Fire-Rescue posted on its Facebook page about Gorham’s death.


Telephone messages left with the department for additional information were not returned Thursday.

Along with the Montville Fire Department, firefighters from Brooks, Freedom, Liberty, Morrill, Palermo, Searsmont, Troy, Unity and Washington responded to Wednesday’s explosion and fire.

The Liberty, Searsmont and Unity ambulance services provided medical assistance, according to Moss.

Investigators from the Office of State Fire Marshal were at the scene Wednesday and Thursday, Moss said. Photographs provided by the office showed a large pile of charred debris and vehicles that were also destroyed.

With a population of about 1,000, Montville is between Freedom and Liberty, about 15 miles west of Belfast.

Wednesday’s blast follows one in October, when a 45-year-old woman in the Somerset County town of Embden suffered serious injuries when a gas leak led to an explosion at her house.

Moss said Thursday the blast in Embden was “an accidental LP gas explosion but the exact cause is still under investigation.”

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