DURHAM, N.C. – The City of Durham Fire Department has released its Origin and Cause Investigation Report regarding the April 10 explosion in downtown Durham finding that the explosion, which resulted in two fatalities and 25 people injured, was accidental.
The report follows a three-month investigation in which more than 25 individuals were interviewed, and numerous processes, 911 calls, and video tapes were examined and reviewed.
Key investigation findings revealed that the explosion occurred at 115 North Duke Street when “an explosive atmosphere was created when a gas service line was struck during a horizontal boring operation. This breach allowed fugitive gas to flow until reaching an ignition source, at which time an explosion occurred resulting in severely damaged and destroyed buildings. As a result of the explosion, several persons, including firefighters, were injured and two fatalities occurred.”
The report also concluded that the gas was ignited by an “undetermined source within 115 Duke Street leading to the explosion,” and that there is no “evidence of criminal intent by any company or individual to warrant criminal prosecution.”
The investigation, conducted using National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) guidelines for fire and explosion investigations, also provided critical timelines and actions resulting in the natural gas explosion. While the report referenced actions of the Durham Fire Department, according to Chief Robert Zoldos, the report should not be considered an after-action report, which is currently underway.
“This report provides a wealth of information about how the explosion actually happened, including when the natural gas line was struck by Optic Cable Technology LLC, when the gas was first detected, and the actions of the firefighters prior to the explosion, including the evacuation of the involved buildings,” Zoldos said. “This report fulfills our responsibility to thoroughly investigate and document the origin, cause, and circumstances of the explosion, according to NFPA-921 standards, which outlines how investigations should be conducted.”
The report, which contains timestamped photos and summaries of interviews, also provides a detailed analysis of the conditions, weather, the exterior and interior of the buildings impacted, and of equipment and materials that were involved in the explosion.
Three additional reports about the explosion are currently in progress and are expected to be released later this fall: 1) An After-Action Report through Durham City-County Emergency Management that reviews the total incident response from a strategic perspective; 2) A Durham Fire Department After-Action Report, which reviews the tactical response of the department; and 3) A North Carolina Utilities Commission Report, which is the regulatory agency tasked with investigating accidents involving utilities and the circumstances leading to such accidents.
Documents, 911 calls, and other public records related to the explosion can now be found at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1oEzNhK9PxeVrxFkZNCcss2Wh6I7psWZp.
About the City of Durham Fire Department
The Durham Fire Department strives to enhance the quality of life for the residents and visitors of Durham by minimizing the harmful effects of fires, medical emergencies, and other types of dangerous events. Guided by the City’s Strategic Plan, the department helps create a safer community by conducting fire and life safety education programs; providing emergency responses to fires, medical calls, hazardous materials spills, technical rescue calls, and water rescue calls; explaining and enforcing the fire code; investigating arson and the cause of other fires; and maintaining readiness through constant training and maintenance of facilities and equipment. To learn more follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.