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Burns from steam explosion killed Duke employee

The state medical examiner's office has ruled Rayford Cofer's May 14 death an accident.

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DURHAM, N.C. — A preliminary report shows that the Duke University employee killed in a steam-pipe explosion last month died from burns to his skin and airways.

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has ruled Rayford Cofer's death an accident.

Cofer, 63, worked as a master steamfitter for the university. He was in the mechanical room of the Levine Science Research Center when a steam line there burst May 14

People in the building were evacuated, building systems were shut down and sprinkler systems discharged after the explosion. The building was closed to students the next day.

A resident of Franklinton, Cofer was a 2002 and 2004  winner of the Meritorious Service Award, one of the top employee honors at Duke.

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