Local News

Durham Bank Explodes

Posted August 11, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— A bank in Durham has been reduced to rubble after a gas explosion Sunday blew brick and insulation right off the structure. The reverberation and sound were so powerful, people from two miles away arrived to survey the damage.

It happened about 5:30 p.m. at Guaranty State Bank at 2313 East N.C.54 near the Research Triangle Park.

No one was hurt and the bank vault that holds all the customers' important documents and money was not damaged.

Many observers said it was lucky the blast occurred when the bank was closed, and when no one happened to be driving close by the building. Four caved-in walls and the roof's frame were all that was left of the structure. A column of flame also shot up at the rear of the building. Firefighters spent 45 minutes ensuring that the flames were contained.

Area residents reported that windows at their homes rattled, or their entire homes shook. Linda Overman, who lives at the intersection of Alston Avenue and Isenhour Street, toldThe News & Observershe was giving her cat a bath when the building blew up. "I thought it was a car accident for a minute," she said. "It shook my whole house."

Ronald Pierce was spending a quiet Sunday when the blast shook his house, and he headed out to see what had happened.

Investigators on the scene suspect a natural gas leak may have caused the explosion.

Traffic was blocked until almost 8:30 p.m., when Public Service Company of NC turned the gas off.

The bank branch opened in April. The bank will probably rebuild on the site.