Parents help as Durham School of the Arts to reopen for 1st time since explosion

North Carolina
Durham School of Arts Explosion Damage 1

Durham School of the Arts students will return to class on a two-hour delay Monday – the first time they’ll be back at the school since a nearby gas explosion rocked the area on Wednesday.

“It felt good to kind of make the place, spiff it up a bit,” Laura Benedict, a parent said. 

Benedict said she worked with 12 other students and parents all Sunday afternoon — weeding and cleaning up the school grounds.  

Several teachers also stopped by to get their classrooms in order after the deadly gas explosion.

“It was an accident. On a lot of levels – thank goodness that more people weren’t hurt,” Benedict said. 

Flowers and plants line the fence on Main Street. It’s the closest people can get to the site of the horrific explosion.  

The force of the blast leveled most of one building and compromised the structures of 15 others.  

“It felt surreal. It didn’t feel like it could happen,” Tai Chung, a neighbor said. 

Chung lives just across the street from 115 North Duke Street where the blast happened at a coffee shop.  

Fire officials said a contractor installing fiber hit a gas line. Firefighters were called and started evacuations. Thirty minutes later the explosion. 

Kong Lee, 61, the owner of Kaffeinate coffee shop was killed.  

“He was a pillar of the community. I always thought in my mind when I visited from where I was sitting that Mr. Lee represented the American dream,” Chung said. 

Chung said he wrote a letter to the editor of the Herald Sun. He wanted people to know that Mr. Lee and Kaffeinate will forever be remembered in the Durham community.

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