The Latest: Company says it was doing work before explosion

April 11, 2019
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Firefighters and emergency personnel work the scene of a building fire in downtown Durham, N.C., Wednesday, April 10, 2019. Authorities say emergency officials responded to an explosion and fire possibly caused by a gas leak. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — The Latest on an explosion that leveled a North Carolina building (all times local):

5 p.m.

A fiber-optic communications company says a contractor was doing installation work in the area where a gas leak explosion leveled a Durham building.

Durham police have said that a contractor boring along a sidewalk hit a gas line and caused a leak that preceded the explosion. City officials say the cause is under investigation. One person died and 25 were injured.

On Thursday, Deputy City Manager Bo Ferguson said that the permit to do the work was held by a subsidiary of Crown Castle.

Crown Castle issued a statement saying that its Fibertech Networks subsidiary had hired a contractor that was installing fiber in the area prior to Wednesday’s explosion. It declined to answer further questions about the contractor or how close the work was to the blast.

It said it was grieving the loss of life.

10:35 a.m.

The toll of people injured in a North Carolina gas explosion that leveled a building has risen to 25, including nine firefighters.

Durham Deputy Fire Chief Chris Iannuzzi said eight more firefighters were treated at a hospital, in addition to the one who underwent surgery. All are expected to be released Thursday.

Fire officials also released more details about the coffee shop where owner Kong Lee died. Authorities say the explosion happened after a contractor boring along a sidewalk hit a gas line.

Chief Bob Zoldos said firefighters told people in the shop to evacuate and got about 10 customers out. He said that firefighters had asked Lee to leave and saw him in the shop’s doorway shortly before the explosion.

Authorities said there’s no indication anyone else was trapped.