A gas explosion leveled an entire building in Durham, North Carolina, on Wednesday – leaving one person dead and more than a dozen others injured, according to officials .
“It looks like the front of the Pentagon on 9/11 – but on a very small scale, "Durham Fire Chief Robert Zoldos told reporters during a press briefing, noting how he was a first responder that day in Washington following the terrorist attacks.
" Half the block is destroyed, ”said witness Jim Rogalski, speaking to CNN.
" Lots of injuries, "he explained. “Our office across the street was blown out. It was terrifying. Glass and debris everywhere. ”
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At least one person was reported dead at the scene. They were said to have been trapped in the debris. Officials said no one was unaccounted for.
Firefighters had been evacuated to the two-story building on Wednesday due to a gas leak when the blast occurred.
it was with all the construction around here, ”witness Dottie Flake told the Raleigh News & Observer.
“Our roof moved. It sounded like something extremely heavy was dropped on top of our building. ”
The building that got leveled is reportedly home to a coffee shop called Kaffeinate and an engineering company called Prescient, which recently moved its headquarters.
do not come to the shop or the area around it, ”Kaffeinate wrote on Instagram after the explosion. “We are ok. We will update when we can. ”
The city of Durham was supposed to celebrate its 150th birthday on Wednesday – with council members and others gathering at City Hall.
" This is a challenging and dark day, "said council member Mark-Anthony Middleton. "We are saddened and heartbroken about the loss of life."
Durham Mayor Steve Schewel praised the efforts of first responders at the earlier press briefing, saying they'd been "absolutely incredible."
"Our firefighters stand there with their hoses, not knowing if there would be another explosion, "he said.
While no one is unaccounted for, authorities plan to use devices and cadaver dogs to make sure one is trapped in the rubble.
Police said that the gas leaked to the explosion was ultimately caused by a contractor who hit a 2-inch gas line while drilling under a sidewalk.
tweeted Dominion Energy which is in charge of the gas in the area. “Our thoughts & prayers are with those impacted by this tragic event as well as their families.”
With Post wires