Deadly explosion in Durham puts perspective on the seriousness of gas leaks


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Tragedy struck in Durham Wednesday after a reportedly punctured gas line results in a deadly explosion. The event also injured a Bull City fire fighter.

The gas leak was reported at Kaffeinate Coffee shop around 9:30  a.m. The explosion happened shortly after at 10:00 a.m. according to authorities after a contractor hit a gas line.

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Our affiliates in Raleigh have confirmed with the city that the owner of the shop, Kong Lee, was the victim.

It’s a tragic visual aid of the dangers of gas leaks. We asked Wilmington Fire officials about reported leaks. Wilmington Fire lost a chief more than 30 years ago when a gas line exploded.

Battalion Chief Patrick Campbell says each situation may vary, but there is no doubt the danger gas can pose if enough leaks out.

“A gas emergency, the smell of gas or a reported leak is an emergency and you should take it seriously,” Campbell said.

Campbell adds that the truth is gas, either propane or natural, has no actual color or smell except for an additive in the gas to alert homeowners or room occupants.

“The additive that is put into the gas is there so that your nose detects it, but that doesn’t tell you how much gas is there,” said Campbell.

He says the tragedy in Durham is situational and that a leak could be a simple issue with a stove or a full-blown puncture of a line. Nonetheless, he says if WFD treats it as an emergency, so should anyone near it.

“If an authority or construction worker says there’s a gas leak, need to go.”