The Latest: Coffee shop owner identified as explosion victim

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on a gas explosion in downtown Durham, North Carolina (all times local):

10:10 p.m.

Police in North Carolina have identified the person killed in a blast that leveled a building.

The Durham Police Department issued a statement Wednesday night identifying the victim as 61-year-old Kong Lee. Police said he was the owner of Kaffeinate coffee shop, which was located at the site of the explosion.

Police officials said that boring work in the area appears to have caused a gas leak that preceded the explosion. The cause of the blast is still under investigation.

Seventeen other people were taken to area hospitals, including six in critical condition.


6:35 p.m.

A firefighters group says a Durham firefighter injured in a downtown explosion is out of surgery.

Professional Firefighters of Durham posted on social media that the firefighter was doing well.

In a subsequent post, the group said the unidentified firefighter was “cutting up and in good spirits.”

The group also said two other firefighters were being checked out but are doing well.

Officials say one person was killed in the explosion.


2:45 p.m.

An emergency official says six of the people injured in a deadly explosion in downtown Durham North Carolina, were critically hurt and one of them has been transferred to the burn unit.

Durham EMS Assistant Chief Lee Van Vleet told a news conference a total of 17 people were hospitalized after the Wednesday morning blast that partially collapsed a building and set it on fire.

Durham Fire Chief Robert Zoldos was one of the first responders after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and told reporters the building now looks like the Pentagon did after terrorists crashed a passenger jet into it.

One person was killed in the explosion. Zoldos says all others who were known to have been in the area have been accounted for but there are still areas that need to be searched.


1:30 p.m.

A firefighter and a Dominion Energy employee are among the 15 people injured in gas explosion that also killed one person in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

A city news release says 11 people were taken to Duke University Medical Center and four were taken to Duke Regional Hospital for treatment. Their conditions weren’t immediately available.

The Wednesday morning explosion partially collapsed a building and set it on fire.

Durham police spokesman Wil Glenn says a contractor boring under a sidewalk hit a 2-inch (5-centimeter) gas line, triggering the explosion.


12:15 p.m.

A nearby school has been evacuated after a gas explosion that killed at least one person at a building in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

Classes have been dismissed for the day Wednesday at the Durham School of the Arts. The schools website says it has about 1,700 students in grades 6 through 12 and more than 135 teachers and counselors.

Durham Police Department public affairs manager Wil Glenn says a contractor digging under a sidewalk hit a 2-inch gas line, triggering the explosion. One person was killed and 15 were taken to area hospitals.


11:55 a.m.

Eyewitnesses are saying they thought a bomb had gone off or an earthquake had hit after a gas explosion in downtown, Durham North Carolina, that has killed at least one person and injured others.

Witness Donna Hester told WRAL-TV the Wednesday morning explosion sounded like a bomb. Another witness, Kelly Andrus, told the TV station she first thought the shaking was an earthquake. She said she looked outside her workplace and saw deep, black smoke billowing from the site.

Police cars blocked the streets in several directions of the explosion. A thick acrid smoked hung over a shopping district near downtown Durham. Helicopters circled overhead.


11:45 a.m.

At least one person has been killed in a gas explosion at a building in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

Durham police public affairs manager Wil Glenn says another 15 people have been taken to hospitals after the Wednesday morning explosion that officials have blamed on a gas leak.


10:55 a.m.

Authorities say emergency officials are responding to an explosion and fire possibly caused by a gas leak in downtown Durham, North Carolina.

The city of Durham tweeted Wednesday that people should avoid the area of Duke and Morgan streets. The city said police and fire officials as well as those from PSNC Energy are responding.

There was no immediate word on any injuries.

Categories: National & International News