VIDEO / PHOTOS: Search-and-rescue teams are sifting through the rubble after an explosion Wednesday morning in downtown Durham left one person dead and 17 people injured, officials said.
Durham firefighters responded to a 911 call about an odor of gas in the 100 block of N. Duke St. at about 9:38 a.m. and then contacted Dominion Energy, Fire Chief Robert J. Zoldos II said. Crews had started evacuating five nearby buildings when the explosion happened at 10:07 a.m., he said.
The City of Durham identified the man who died in the blast as Kaffeinate coffee shop owner Kong Lee, 61, in a late Wednesday news release from Public Affairs Manager Wil Glenn. Kaffeinate was one of the businesses destroyed at the blast site.
Initially, city officials said the explosion happened when a contractor digging under a sidewalk near 115 N. Duke St. hit a 2-inch pipe. They said later they were investigating the cause of the leak.