Farmington, ME – A firefighter was killed and six people were injured when a powerful propane explosion destroyed a new building Monday in Farmington, Maine.

The firefighters were called in and the building evacuated when the smell of gas was detected, Farmington Town Selectman Scott Landry said.

The blast had such force that only debris remained from the two-story building, which housed a nonprofit group called LEAP that serves people with cognitive and intellectual disabilities.

“It’s a war zone,” Landry said. “It’s just a mess. The building is gone.”

The injured – four firefighters, including the town’s fire chief, one employee of LEAP and one ambulance worker – were transferred to hospitals around the state, Landry said. State public safety spokesman Steve McCausland said five people remained hospitalized.

The explosion around 8:30 a.m. EDT was heard for miles and was strong enough to blow a vehicle across an intersection. Paper, insulation and building debris rained on the area. Several nearby businesses were shut down.

Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols said the closest comparison he could make was what he saw in war-torn Iraq during the year he spent as an adviser to the country’s national police.

“It was just total devastation. I’ve never seen destruction like that in my career,” Nichols said. “I’ve been in law enforcement 35 years. I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life, except overseas. It was horrible.”