Private ceremony honors second anniversary of Sept. 16 explosion

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A small crowd gathered on Thursday to honor the two-year anniversary of the LEAP Inc. building explosion. Artist Vera Johnson installed the “Tribute to Resilience” sculpture earlier in the week. (Photo by Scott Landry)

FARMINGTON – Farmington Fire Rescue, staff members of LEAP Inc., and close friends and family, gathered on Thursday to honor the life of Capt. Michael Bell and those impacted by the massive propane explosion that took place on Sept. 16, 2019.

Departments across the state took time to send their well wishes to Farmington and to have a moment of silence in honor of Capt. Bell, who perished while saving the lives of others two years ago. The newly constructed building on Route 2 was just beginning to serve as an office and training space for staff and administrators of LEAP Inc. when a propane leak caused an explosion that totaled the structure and left a wake of trauma for many.

Members of the department spoke to the small crowd gathered at the fire station, and a memorial was officially dedicated to the life of Capt. Bell and those affected by the incident. The memorial consists of several retired fire extinguishers, reconstructed into chimes. The sculpture offers not only a visual representation of the dedication of the fire department, but an interactive, audible experience meant to help with the healing process. The sculpture was created by local artist Vera Johnson and was made possible through a grant from the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area LEAP Explosion Fund.

The “Tribute to Resilience” stands in Bjorn Park, across the road from the explosion site.

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