Day after deadly Durham explosion, people return to damaged homes, come together

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — There were signs of progress in and around Duke Street Thursday a day after a deadly explosion in Durham. 

A section of Main Street closed since Wednesday’s deadly explosion reopened. 

Some people have also been let back into their damaged homes. 

Venus Bradley captured video of the large fire and billowing black smoke just moments after the explosion. 

“It felt like a truck hit the building and we’re kind of by that 11 foot by 8 (foot) bridge so at first, I thought someone hit the bridge again,” Bradley said.

Bradley was two blocks away, over at Brightleaf Square. When first responders evacuated her building, she went outside, that’s when she spotted the inferno. 

“We were very concerned about people being in the building because its 10 a.m. and there are lots of people working,” Bradley said.

Firefighters were first called to 115 North Duke Street just after 9:30 a.m. Wednesday for a gas leak. 

Investigators said contractors were drilling and struck a natural gas line. Crews started evacuating surrounding buildings. Then at 10:07 a.m. was the explosion and fire. 

“Pretty much everything that could fall off the wall did,” Robyn Mical said.

CBS 17 first spoke with Mical Wednesday. She was like so many others in the West Village Apartments who were displaced. 

“They let us back into our building — the one that had the extensive damage,” Mical said Thursday.

Mical said her apartment has broken windows and doors. 

She was a regular at Kaffeinate coffee shop. Investigators confirm its owner, Kong Lee, died in the blast. 

“He was there a lot. I mean like every time I was in there Mr. Lee was there. I can’t describe a more kind and humble person,” Mical said.

Meanwhile, Maverick’s remains a gathering spot. 

Local restaurants, organizations and neighbors have been dropping off food and supplies. They’ve been offering meals to first responders and those impacted. 

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