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Gas Explosion Causes Fire Near KC's Country Club Plaza

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**UPDATE: 8:38 p.m.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — An official says 14 people have been confirmed as injured in a massive gas explosion in an upscale Kansas City shopping district. Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte says officials don't yet know if anyone was killed in the explosion, which destroyed JJ's restaurant. Authorities also are still trying to determine the full cause of the blast. Schulte says they do know there was a gas leak followed by an explosion. At this point, he says authorities believe it may have stemmed from an accident involving a utility contractor. Earlier, police spokeswoman Rhonda Flores said it appeared that a car crashed into a gas main near JJ's just after 6 p.m. People have been cleared from the area around the restaurant.

 

**This story is continuing to develop. The Associated Press's and KPR's earlier stories on this incident follow.


**7:45 p.m.  KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Police say seven or eight people have been injured in the gas main explosion and fire at a restaurant in the Country Club Plaza shopping district in Kansas City. Police Sergeant Tony Sanders said the manager of JJ's restaurant also has told police three people are unaccounted for, but he doesn't know if they left before the explosion. Sanders says a few of those injured have been taken to hospitals.

 

The Kansas City Star reports that Major Anthony Ell of the Kansas City Police Department says there are no known deaths in connection with the incident. A spokesman for the University of Kansas Hospital reports that the facility is treating five patients, but that all have trauma injuries rather than burn injuries. He said that one of the patients is in critical condition.  The Kansas City Star also reports that fire crews said the gas company had shut off the gas flow in the area around 7:45 p.m.

**7 p.m. A car crashed into a gas main Tuesday evening in an upscale Kansas City shopping district, sparking a massive blaze that engulfed an entire block and caused multiple injuries, police said. Police spokeswoman Rhonda Flores said it appeared that a car crashed into a gas main near a restaurant at 6:03 p.m. Flores said injuries were reported but that she did not know how many or how severe they are. She noted an initial call for three ambulances had been increased to 10. She said she had not heard of any reported fatalities. Flores said the car crash appeared to have been accidental. Kerry O'Connor, a spokeswoman for St. Luke's Hospital, which is near the scene of the fire, said several patients were on the way to the hospital. She said they haven't been assessed yet but "they appear to be critical at this time." Fire officials didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday evening. The smell of gas was very strong near the area long after the suspected explosion. Video showed dozens of firefighters and other emergency responders battling a massive blaze that appeared to have engulfed an entire block, with flames burning through the roofs. Black smoke swirled in the air and debris littered surrounding streets. The shopping area was established in 1922 by J.C. Nichols. Based on the architecture of Seville, Spain, it includes retail, restaurants, apartments and offices.

 

**6 p.m.-6:45 p.m. (culled from area news reports) A massive fire broke out Tuesday evening in an upscale shopping and entertainment district in Kansas City. Fire officials didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment, but television video showed dozens of firefighters and other emergency responders battling a massive blaze through heavy smoke, and debris littering surrounding streets. Multiple Kansas City news outlets reported early in their coverage of the incident that the fire was caused by a gas explosion. The Associated Press reports that Kansas City police now say it appears a car crashed into a gas main before a massive fire erupted in an upscale shopping and entertainment district. Police spokeswoman Rhonda Flores said injuries were reported, but she didn't know how many or how severe. She says an initial call for three ambulances had been increased to 10. Flores said it appears a car crashed into a gas main near a restaurant in the area at about 6:03 p.m. She says the crash appeared to be accidental. 


KCTV5.com reports that the fire occurred at the site of JJ's Restaurant near 48th Street and Belleview Avenue in Kansas City, Missouri. KMBC-TV reported that a spokesperson for St. Luke's Hospital has confirmed that patients with critical injuries were brought to the facility. KCTV5 says that the University of Kansas Hospital, which operates the area's only burn unit, has reported treating five patients. The Kansas City Star reports that the blaze was a three-alarm fire, with a fourth alarm notification for staffing purposes; that ambulances from Kansas City, Kansas and Johnson County were brought in on standby; and that a nearby apartment building was evacuated. Roads on the west side of the Plaza were closed, and authorities urged people to stay away from the area. 

 

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