FARMINGTON — Attorneys for Larry Lord said Wednesday that knowing that a leak test wasn’t performed after an empty propane tank was refilled adds further details about the deadly explosion that leveled the LEAP Inc. building Sept. 16, 2019.

Larry Lord Gofundme photo

Lord, a maintenance worker for LEAP, was critically injured. Fire Capt. Michael Bell was killed and six firefighters were seriously or critically injured in the blast.

Attorneys Steven Silin and Daniel Kagan, both senior partners at Berman & Simmons in Lewiston, held a Zoom conference with the media Wednesday.

George Barker, a propane and natural gas technician with C.N. Brown in Farmington, was cited by the Maine Fuel Board and entered into a consent agreement June 9 for allegedly not doing a pressure test for leaks, as required by law, after refilling an empty propane tank three days before the explosion.

If the test was done as required, the explosion wouldn’t have happened, Silin said.

“I know Mr. Barker felt terrible about what happened,” he said of the former firefighter who lives in the area.

Techno Metal Post Maine is accused of severing the propane line that went under the parking lot from the tank to the building while installing safety bollards Sept. 10. The company’s owner, Michael Brochu, entered into a consent agreement with the Maine Public Utilities Commission for alleged violations of Dig Safe law and rules. He agreed to pay a $1,000 fine. The agreement was not an admission to the legal conclusions cited in a notice of enforcement investigation.

If Techno had followed the excavation laws to determine where utility lines were located, the explosion wouldn’t have happened, Silin said.

The next phase is a civil lawsuit to get compensation for Lord and his family, once all the supporting, necessary information is compiled and it is known what the long-term consequences are for Larry, Kagan said.

Attorney Walter McKee, who is representing Capt. Bell’s family and injured firefighters, is also expected to file a lawsuit on behalf of firefighters to get compensation for them.

It will be up to the court to determine the legal responsibility for what happened and the damages to be awarded.

The Office of the Maine State Fire Marshal has not released its final report on the case, but the attorneys are working with them to get information.

Lord received second- and third-degree burns over 85% of his body and has had more than 20 surgeries, Kagan said. Lord spent seven months in the hospital.

Lord and a couple of firefighters are expected to need additional surgeries, he said.

Lord is confined to his home and is being cared for by his wife and visiting medical people. He has had to go back to the hospital since he returned home in April because of complications.

There is also communication with medical staff at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“He is dealing with a whole lot,” Silin said.

Lord and his wife, Sandy, are extraordinary people, he said. Lord couldn’t communicate with her for most of the time he was in the hospital. Countless times Sandy was told he would not make it, Silin said.

When Lord was first assessed by burn surgeons at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston they gave him a 140% chance of not surviving, Silin said.

“He overcame those odds. It is our job he be compensated for what he went through,” Silin said.

Kagan and Silin are working directly with McKee, Silin said, and when the civil suit goes forward, it will be done jointly.

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