Students describe fear, confusion after explosion is felt at Durham School of the Arts

April 11, 2019

A Durham school was among several buildings impacted by an explosion caused by a ruptured gas line Wednesday afternoon.

Charles Gildart got a text from his son, a junior at Durham School of the Arts, saying, “So we just heard a big bang and the building shook.”

“The first thing I did was turn on the news. I tried not to panic, of course,” Gildart said. “And lo and behold there it was, devastation in downtown Durham to the likes of which I’ve never seen before.”

Durham officials say the devastation was caused by a gas explosion that occurred when crews struck a gas line on North Duke Street. The explosion was felt hundreds of feet away at the Durham School for the Arts.

“It shook the building, that’s how big it was,” junior Chance Gildart said.

Chance Gildart was walking to his second period class when he heard the blast.

“Lights are flickering, we’re not sure what’s going on and everyone just goes silent in the hallway,” he said.

Students quickly began to realize the building was damaged.

“One of the windows got blown out and one of the academy buildings where we have our math and science classes, some of the ceiling fell,” Chance Gildart said.

Sixth grader Jasmin Treminio was inside a classroom when pieces of plastic that had been hanging from the ceiling fell onto her leg.

“It was plastic, so at first I didn’t feel anything, but later on it started hurting,” she said.

Like many students, Treminio said she is still shaken up.

“I was just scared. I wanted to cry so bad because I didn’t know what was going on,” she said.

Classes at the Durham School of the Arts have been canceled for Thursday while authorities assess damage to the building. Durham Public Schools said counselors will be available for students who need help dealing with some of the trauma.