Gas explosion Durham, N.C., kills 1, damages Ingram Collection of Porsches

A gas explosion near Brightleaf Square in downtown Durham, North Carolina, killed one person and left more than a dozen injured, while also causing significant damage to the Ingram Collection of Porsche collector cars.

According to The News & Observer newspaper and WRAL-TV, the explosion took place just after 10 a.m. after firefighters had been dispatched to investigate a gas leak on the 100 block of North Duke Street, where contractors were drilling a hole and struck a natural gas line. Nearby buildings were evacuated, including the Durham School of Arts located on the 400 block of North Duke Street.

One witness, Phil Grosshans, told WRAL that he was walking across Duke Street when he heard a “gigantic blast” that “nearly knocked me down.”

The Ingram Collection is located at 111 N. Duke St. According to multiple media reports, the neighboring building, which housed a coffee shop, was destroyed.

Bob Ingram, a retired pharmaceutical executive, owns the collection of 80 Porsches that includes a 918 Spyder, Carrera GT, Cayman GT4, Rothmans-livery 962, 959, 1949 356, 1955 Spyder, and much more. Photos from the scene appear to show a red 1959 356A Carrera GT Speedster and another Porsche with extensive damage.

Durham is celebrating its 150th birthday today, and according to The News & Observer, city council members had gathered at City Hall to celebrate.

“This is a challenging and dark day,” Mark-Anthony Middleton told the newspaper. “We are saddened and heartbroken over the loss of life.”

We will update this story as it develops.

Update: Police said 17 people were injured in the blast, including a firefighter, and identified the person killed as 61-year-old Kong Lee, owner of Kaffeinate coffee shop.

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