1 Dead, 15 Injured in North Carolina Gas Explosion

A gas line explosion in Durham, North Carolina left one dead and 15 injured on Wednesday morning.

The accident started at 10:07 a.m. on Wednesday morning, according to a report by The Daily Mail. A contractor was drilling into the sidewalk outside of an office building when he hit a gas line underneath. This triggered an explosion that took down the whole building, killing one and injuring several others in the process.

The building housed a coffee shop and a psychiatrists office. Surrounding structures were also reportedly damaged. Those inside said they heard a sudden "boom" and felt the ground shake. Before long, the remains of the building were on fire.

Firefighters rushed in to combat the blaze while the victims were evacuated and transported to a nearby hospital. Other buildings in the area were evacuated as a precaution as well. One firefighter was seriously injured.

So far, there is no word on why the contractor was drilling on the sidewalk in the first place. Reports suggest he may have been preparing to put in a new fiber-optic line underground when he hit the two-inch gas line. Another theory is that the gas leak was already in progress, and he was looking for it.

It is unclear whether the contractor himself was the one who passed away in the explosion. His status is still not clear at this time. Meanwhile, aerial photography shows the scope of the damage to the buildings. The two structures on either side of it were badly damaged, with one losing all of the glass from its windows and the other partially collapsed.

A statement from Prescient, the building technology company that leased the space, said that no employees were hurt in the explosion. However, it described the building as "a total loss."

A group of Duke University employees were reportedly among the injured, though there was no university event going on in the area.

"Several injuries of Duke employees from shattered glass have been reported, and those individuals have been treated or transported for car," read a statement from the school.

Meanwhile, many local residents described the scene to reporters on Wednesday after either witnessing the explosion or the aftermath.

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"I've never seen anything like it before. I was sitting at the traffic light... and I smelled heavy, heavy gas," Robin Jarvi told WTVD. "There were people in the building. I saw a business owner but a sign that said 'Business is closed for the day because of a gas leak. As soon as I went through the traffic light, the whole building exploded."

Officials say the site has not been entirely searched yet, but they are confident that everyone has been accounted for.