911 caller reported gas smell 26 minutes before contractor reported Durham line rupture

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham officials said a 911 call reporting a strong gas odor was made 26 minutes before a contractor reported hitting a gas main – which led to April 10’s fatal explosion. 

At 9:11 a.m., someone called 911 to report a strong smell of gas as they were driving through the intersection of North Duke and Morgan streets.

A fire engine was dispatched to the area at 9:13 a.m. 

DFD Engine 1 was at the intersection mentioned by the caller at 9:17 a.m. 

The responding firefighters reported no gas smell at the intersection.

The caller mentioned Durham School of the Arts numerous times in their call to 911 which led the firefighters to circle the school. No odor was detected and efforts to contact the 911 caller were unsuccessful.

“After completing a circuit of DSA and detecting no gas odor, Engine 1 returned to the area of the original reported odor, pausing midblock on Morgan Street between N. Duke and Gregson in an additional effort to detect the odor,” Durham officials said.

The firefighters then observed gas service on the rear of 710 West Main Street, which is a block away from the site of the explosion. 

Firefighters believed “pressure related venting of gas occurred” and returned to their station. 

Engine 1 would be dispatched again after the contractor called at 9:37 a.m. reporting they had struck a gas main at 115 N. Duke Street.

“There are no other 911 reports of a gas odor or leak prior the 9:37 a.m. 911 call from the contractor to report that he had hit a gas line. At this time, there is no explanation for the gap between the first reported gas odor received at 9:11 a.m. and the time that passed before the contractor’s call to 911,” Durham officials said. 

The explosion occurred at 10:07 a.m. – killing one and injuring more than a dozen more. 

Engine 1 followed appropriate procedures when responding to the first call, officials said. 

This investigation is ongoing.

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