The Durham Fire Department has issued a report on its investigation of an explosion at Kaffeinate coffee shop at 115 North Duke Street on April 10, 2019 that killed two people and injured 25 others.
Fire department investigators spent three months analyzing videos, 911 calls and interviews from more than 25 people to compile the report. The key finding confirms the initial assessment that the explosion was caused by a gas leak that occurred when workers in the area struck a gas line during a horizontal boring operation.
Although investigators were not able to determine the specific source of ignition for the blast that leveled the coffee shop killing its owner Kong Lee, 61, they were able to determine that there was no evidence of criminal intent. The report, which contains timestamped photos and summaries of interviews, is available to the public on the city’s website.
On April 10, around 9:11 a.m., Durham 911 dispatchers received a call about a strong smell of gas on North Duke Street near Kaffeinate coffee shop. Firefighters and a crew from PSNC Energy arrived to investigate and were in the process of clearing the scene when the explosion occurred around 10:07 a.m. At least nine firefighters and one PSNC employee were injured. Jay Rambeaut, who had worked for PSNC for 20 years, later died from his injuries which included severe burns, a skull fracture, injuries from flying debris.
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