**UPDATE** Durham officials confirmed that the victim of Wednesday’s gas leak explosion is 61-year-old Kong Lee, the owner of the Kaffeinate coffee shop.
One person has died in an explosion that shook downtown Durham on Wednesday morning.
Emergency crews are on the scene on North Duke Street attempting to put out the fire that has started in the building. Durham Police said in a media briefing that a contractor was digging and hit a pipe, which caused a gas leak explosion.
— Christian Leonard (@ChristianLnrd) April 10, 2019
One firefighter was also injured and 15 people have been taken to the hospital. Buildings around the area have been evacuated.
UNC Medical Center tweeted that they had received one patient from the explosion and were on standby to possibly receive additional victims.
People quickly responded to the explosion on social media, saying they could feel the shock from blocks away. Several store windows in the local area were also blown out.
Durham Public Schools announced on Twitter that students and staff were safe in place at Durham School of the Arts and that early dismissal was in process.
The coffee shop Kaffeinate, which is located on Duke Street, posted on Instagram that they would be closed for the rest of the day Wednesday. Photos and videos from the scene of the explosion indicate that Kaffeinate was among the businesses caught in the explosion.
A spokesperson from the Town of Chapel Hill confirmed that the town sent fire trucks to Durham for normal mutual aid as Durham emergency crews deal with the explosion.
Officials are asking everyone to avoid the area.
Latest update from @DurhamPoliceNC & @durhamcityfire regarding today’s explosion & fire near @BrightleafSq. Please continue to avoid this area while our first responders work this scene. pic.twitter.com/xZARkQ0fUO
— CityofDurhamNC (@CityofDurhamNC) April 10, 2019
I’m closely monitoring the dangerous fire and explosion reported in Durham. My heart is with the first responders and entire Durham community as we await more details.
— David E. Price (@RepDavidEPrice) April 10, 2019
My heart is with Durham today. #onecommunity
— Lydia Lavelle (@lydialavelle) April 10, 2019
This post will be updated with more information as it becomes available.
Featured image via Alert Durham