Gas leak explosion in Durham shakes locals

Standing+alongside+his+two+children%2C+Kaffeinate+owner+Kong+Lee+smiles+brightly+outside+of+his+store+where+a+tragedy+would+later+occur.+Lee+passed+shortly+after+a+gas+leak+in+Durham+led+to+an+explosion+on+North+Duke+Street.
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Gas leak explosion in Durham shakes locals

Standing alongside his two children, Kaffeinate owner Kong Lee smiles brightly outside of his store where a tragedy would later occur. Lee passed shortly after a gas leak in Durham led to an explosion on North Duke Street.

Standing alongside his two children, Kaffeinate owner Kong Lee smiles brightly outside of his store where a tragedy would later occur. Lee passed shortly after a gas leak in Durham led to an explosion on North Duke Street.

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Standing alongside his two children, Kaffeinate owner Kong Lee smiles brightly outside of his store where a tragedy would later occur. Lee passed shortly after a gas leak in Durham led to an explosion on North Duke Street.

Instagram

Instagram

Standing alongside his two children, Kaffeinate owner Kong Lee smiles brightly outside of his store where a tragedy would later occur. Lee passed shortly after a gas leak in Durham led to an explosion on North Duke Street.

Daphne Bargeman, Staff Reporter

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A building exploded in downtown Durham this Wednesday on North Duke Street after what was reportedly a gas leak. Nearby coffee shop owner, Kong Lee, has been the only one declared deceased after staying in his shop during the subsequent explosion, even after being asked to leave. Nine firefighters are among the twenty-five that have been injured, and two civilians are in critical condition. Streets have since been closed in the surrounding area. Contractors are working on doing installation work in the same area the gas leak explosion leveled one of the fifteen damaged Durham buildings, according to a communications company.

 An investigation about what caused the gas leak was launched after a first-response to a 911 call about a strange odor on the 100 block of N. Duke Street. Many survivors would later report what they called a noiseless flash, a blinding light and intense pressure, but oddly enough, little to no noise. Investigators are skeptical of construction workers being responsible for triggering the large explosion that many bystanders felt shake the ground from miles away. Officials have yet to identify the subcontractor who hit the gas line before the blast.

 Main Street has opened as of today, but Durham School of the Arts campus, which was evacuated the day of the blast, will remain closed today until the extensive street closures surrounding the school have opened up again. The school, however, was cleared for use after a close inspection on Thursday.

 There have been a few fundraisers launched in order to help those who were affected, including the Bull City Rebuilds GoFundMe campaign created by Durham local Rebekah Miel. Their overall goal is to help the families and businesses impacted by the explosion in downtown Durham, including the family of Kong Lee. In an effort to help Durham and its local residents, first responders, and those injured, be sure to look into these accessible organizations to see how you can help your community.

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