The building had been evacuated after the smell of gas was detected, said Farmington Town Selectman Scott Landry. One firefighter was killed, and six others were taken to a hospital, he said.
The conditions of the injured firefighters weren’t immediately known.
The building housing Leap Inc., which serves people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities, was only a couple of weeks old, Landry said. A hole is all that is left.
“The new building is spread all over creation,” Landry said.
The blast around 8:30 a.m. was heard for miles around. Video shows debris raining down on homes and buildings in the neighborhood. Several nearby businesses have closed.
Kim Hilton, who works in the admissions department at the nearby University of Maine at Farmington, said there were scary moments when the blast occurred.
“It felt like someone hit our building with a vehicle,” she said.
Gov. Janet Mills said on Twitter that she was monitoring the situation and that the State Fire Marshal’s Office will investigate.
“Our hearts go out to all those impacted by this tragedy, especially to the loved ones of the firefighter lost and others injured,” she wrote.
Farmington is about 70 miles north of Portland.