Crews continue to rebuild after Durham explosion; aim to keep asbestos out of the air

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DURHAM, NC — Three months ago an explosion shook parts of Durham, killing two people.

Many of the buildings in that area remain condemned as cleanup continues.

“I remember hearing a very, very loud sound,” said Durham resident Guy Eachus.

It’s a moment that many in Durham will never forget.

“It was bizarre to see such a mess really,” said Eachus.

“It’s a degree of devastation that not really anybody is used to seeing,” said contractor Jeff McDermott.

These days Duke Street is partially reopened, but things still aren’t back to normal. But Jeff McDermott and Blue Sky Restoration Contractors are working to change that.

“We’ve worked with the building owners to get the valuable personal property out,” said McDermott. “Now we’re in the second phase which is the demolition part of getting the building down to the ground.”

The dust has now settled, and gas and fire are no longer a danger, but as cleanup continues there’s another risk in the air: asbestos.

“We’re doing air quality testing throughout the entire block just to make sure we keep the city of Durham safe, and all of the surrounding buildings safe and unaffected,” said McDermott.

Concerns aside, the cleanup is actually ahead of schedule and should wrap up within the next week.

While it’s unclear what will happen with the property, one thing is certain.

“It’s never pleasant to see something like that,” said Eachus.

“Without actually going through it and seeing it every day it’s just something you will never get used to,” said McDermott.

The Durham One Fund has extended the deadline for businesses who were displaced by the blast until Friday, July 12th.

The advisory committee will then determine the best way to distribute roughly $250,000 to those affected.

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