911 calls outline time between gas line struck, explosion in downtown Durham

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The 911 calls released Friday help depict the moments between when the gas line was struck in downtown Durham and when it caused an explosion.

“We have hit a gas service on North Duke between Main Street and Morgan Street. Probably need a police presence until the gas company can get here to shut the leak off,” the caller said.

Durham police said that firefighters were sent to investigate the leak at 9:38 a.m. Wednesday. The explosion happened at 10:07 a.m. The owner of a coffee shop, 61-year-old Kong Lee, died in the explosion. There were 25 others injured, including nine firefighters, officials said.

The caller told the 911 operator that they were contacting 811 when asked if the utility company had been notified. 

The Durham Fire Department completed operations related to the explosion on Friday, according to a news release from the city. Some streets remain closed.

“Due to public safety concerns, the public right-of-way, which includes North Duke Street from Morgan Street to West Main Street, is not accessible and is being secured by the Durham Police Department,” the release said.

Morgan Street is expected to reopen sometime over the weekend once debris clean-up is completed, the release said.

Wednesday morning’s explosion resulted in a number of downtown Durham businesses being condemned. Some residents nearby were allowed back into their apartments beginning Thursday night.

Durham School of the Arts announced Friday it will resume classes on Monday on a two-hour delay.

CBS 17 will update this story as more calls are released. 

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