Coffee shop owner killed in Durham gas explosion refused to evacuate, fire officials say

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DURHAM, N.C. — The owner of the coffee shop who was killed in the Durham gas explosion Wednesday refused to evacuate, according to the Durham Fire Department.

Kong Lee, 61, the owner of Kaffeinate Coffee Shop, died in the blast.

Durham fire officials said an evacuation was ordered prior to the explosion and everyone left the coffee shop except Lee.

Firefighters went to get a police officer to enforce the evacuation order and that is when the building exploded, fire officials said.

The explosion happened shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday at 115 N. Duke St. after a contractor hit a gas line. In addition to killing Lee, the explosion injured 25 others.

One Durham firefighter was seriously injured. He is still in the hospital but fire officials said they expect him to be released from the hospital Thursday evening.

A Dominion Energy employee was also injured in the explosion.

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