Durham School of Arts to close Thursday in wake of fatal explosion

Durham County News

In this aerial photo, firefighters battle a fire at the scene of an explosion in Durham, N.C. Wednesday, April 10, 2019. (Julie Wall/The News & Observer via AP)

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – The Durham School of the Arts will remain closed Thursday while inspectors check the buildings after an explosion nearby, Superintendent Dr. Pascal Mubenga said.

“We want to make sure that we’re gonna inspect our buildings to make sure that everything is in place,” he said.

The school is located at 400 Duke Street, which is close to the site of Wednesday morning’s gas explosion that killed one person and sent 17 people to the hospital.

Students at the school heard and felt the explosion, which happened at 10:07 a.m.

Noah Vorholt, a seventh grader, said he had just walked into his social studies class.

“There were other kids that were outside for photography at school. They were all screaming and running. And, one of the girls came into the middle school building were crying,” he said.

Vorholt said some styrofoam surrounding metal bars in the ceiling fell but that nobody got hurt. Dr. Mubenga said all students had safely made it away from school during a 2 p.m. press conference.

Some parents came to the school to get their kids after the explosion.

School administrators initially told parents to pick up students who come to school by car at the nearby Trinity United Methodist Church.

However, emergency responders blocked several streets near the school due to safety concerns. By late morning Wednesday, administrators arranged for students to be taken by bus to Northgate Mall to reunite with their families.

“Things of this nature really cause some panicking,” said Mike Zajac, as he picked up his grandson, Noah. “This is a disaster.”

Counselors will be available for students and staff members of the Durham School of the Arts, even though school will not be in session.

Those counselors will be at the Staff Development Center at 2107 Hillandale Road.

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