Excavation of downtown Durham explosion site to begin Monday

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Excavation of the site of a deadly gas line explosion is set to begin Monday.

Crews finished removing debris this week from the block of Duke Street between Main Street and Morgan Street. An April 10 blast killed Kong Lee, the owner of the Kaffeinate coffee shop. Dominion Energy employee Jay Rambeaut died after spending two weeks in intensive care due to injuries suffered in the explosion.

Workers intended to begin digging at the site April 21 in order to determine what caused the explosive event.

The discovery of asbestos in the debris delayed that work.

An asbestos abatement team finished its work Friday.

Another crew installed two giant metal panels at one of the buildings damaged on Duke Street to reinforce a wall which was deemed to be structurally unsound.

“Utilities plan to be out here next week for the first half of the week doing the excavation, at which point we’re looking at reopening the road once it’s safe to do so,” city security manager Logan Small said. “We had a meeting with the North Carolina Department of Transportation, and preference was given to Thursday May 9, by the end of the day to hopefully have the road reopened.”

The blast caused substantial damage to several neighboring businesses on the street. Small said it is up to individual owners and their insurance companies to determine how and when they plan to reopen.

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