The Durham Fire Department shared photos of their efforts on Facebook hours after the incident, urging residents to avoid the area as they continued to work.
The 17 injured were taken to local hospitals, with six critically wounded, CNN reported. A Dominion Energy employee who responded to the gas leak was injured along with a firefighter. Zoldos said the firefighter’s injuries are serious but not life-threatening, according to CNN.
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One witness, Dottie Flake, said she felt the impact from the explosion at her home a block away.
“I just heard a boom, and didn’t know what it was with all the construction around here,” she told the
Zoldos said that the person who died was likely trapped in the building and it could take at least two days for rescue teams to search all the rubble, according to the
Members of the Raleigh and Chapel Hill fire departments were on the scene, according to the
Durham Mayor Steve Schewel called the explosion a “terrible tragedy” during a Wednesday news conference.
“I feel a real sense of loss and of grief. It’s a very difficult day in that way,” he said. “But I feel something else as well, and that is a tremendous sense of gratitude. I saw firefighters with their hoses … fighting that fire not knowing if there was another potential gas explosion.”