Durham Blames Contractor for Fatal Pipeline Blast
Crews working underground in downtown Durham, N.C., struck a 2-inch gas line on the morning of April 10 that caused a gas leak, and about 30 minutes later a massive explosion. The blast caused a two-story building to collapse and damage several others. One person was killed and 17 others were injured, some critically, according to reports.
"Durham firefighters were dispatched to a gas leak call in the 100 block of North Duke Street at 9:38 a.m.," a statement by the city of Durham detailed. “Contractors were using a boring machine when they struck a 2-inch gas line. Firefighters and employees from Dominion Energy were on the scene investigating the leak when an explosion happened around 10:07 a.m., resulting in a fire and a partial building collapse.”
Crews with PSNC Energy, a division of Dominion, arrived at the scene at approximately 10:26 a.m. and shut off the flow of gas, the utility reported. PSNC also stated that the explosion occurred shortly after a utility employee had responded to a call about third-party damage to a natural gas line.
In a statement, PSNC noted further that a "contractor doing excavation work dug into a natural gas pipeline," adding that the firm was not working on behalf of Dominion Energy. The North Carolina 811 service stated that the contractor—whose name was being withheld—had been working for Kaffeinate, a coffee shop located in the building that was destroyed, the local ABC 11 television station reported.
The offices of Prescient Co., a structural engineering firm, were also destroyed in the explosion. "I am happy to report that all of our Prescient Co. employees were fortunate to have safely evacuated the building literally minutes before the explosion," wrote Jerry Williams, the company's regional vice president, in a Facebook post. "Thoughts and prayers still out to those affected by this tragedy."