Skip to main content

2 missing, more than dozen injured in Kansas City gas explosion

By Steve Almasy, CNN
updated 2:17 AM EST, Wed February 20, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Utility company said it appears contractor struck a gas line
  • Two people also missing, Kansas City fire department says
  • Witnesses say roof blew off restaurant
  • People in the area said they could smell gas well before explosion

See CNN affiliate coverage on KSHB, KCTV and KMBC

(CNN) -- Two people are missing and at least 14 people were injured when a gas line in Kansas City, Missouri, exploded and ignited a four-alarm fire, officials said Tuesday night.

The explosion apparently leveled JJ's restaurant, a popular spot in Country Club Plaza, an upscale shopping district and residential neighborhood that is a regional gathering place.

James Garrett, a spokesman for the Kansas City Fire Department, said three people were unaccounted for Tuesday night.

Missouri Gas Energy said: "Early indications are that a contractor doing underground work struck a natural gas line, but the investigation continues."

Witness: Kansas City fire was 'huge'

Mayor Sly James said the walls of the restaurant had collapsed.

Dr. Leonardo Lozada, the chief physician at St Luke's Health Systems, said he heard the explosion at the hospital, which is a block and a half from the restaurant.

"Yes, it was pretty loud. I just heard it; it wasn't that traumatic," he said, adding that some people told him they saw the roof blow off.

Officials at three hospitals indicated at least 14 people were hospitalized, including three in critical condition and three in serious condition.

The number of injured had dropped from previous reports because there was "a lot of confusion with people coming into the emergency room." Lozada told CNN.

Two patients are in critical condition at St. Luke's Hospital, said Dr. Marc Larsen. One of the patients suffered extensive burns; the other facial trauma, he said. Most of the five other patients suffered minor lacerations or inhalation injuries, he said.

Lozardo said one man had burns to "40% percent of his body, mostly to his lower extremities."

Garrett said here were no fatalities at the scene, but two of those hurt had life-threatening injuries.

About 100 fire fighters fought the fire before it was put out, fire chief Paul Berardi said.

When the first fire trucks arrived the restaurant was fully involved with a few people inside, he said.

Witness says man told her to leave restaurant

One witness told CNN affiliate KSHB a man who had a hand-held device came into the restaurant before the blast and told her and 10 others in JJ's to leave.

Jennifer Carter told the station that restaurant workers already had turned off the appliances because people inside had smelled gas.

She said she left when told and was a few blocks away when she heard the explosion.

Garrett confirmed that workers from Missouri Gas Energy were "on the scene" before the explosion.

Residents who live near JJ's said they reported smelling gas to the utility company about an hour before the explosion, according to CNN affiliate KCTV.

The explosion shook doors and windows at nearby businesses and homes, the station reported.

James, who came to the scene from his office, said his primary focus was the victims.

"That's the main concern, making sure they come out OK," he said.

Garrett said gas lines have been shut off.

"People are still not allowed back into the plaza," he said. "I don't know when it will reopen -- hopefully tonight."

CNN's Carma Hassan and Cristy Lenz contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:21 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
The first human trial of an experimental Ebola vaccine has produced promising results, U.S. scientists said.
updated 9:15 AM EST, Thu November 27, 2014
Darren Wilson, the police officer who fatally shot unarmed black teen in August abandoned home after address made public.
updated 5:36 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
HBO -- backing a documentary based on "Going Clear," a book about Scientology and Hollywood -- isn't taking any chances with legal side.
updated 2:35 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Grandmaster Nguyen Van Chieu has devoted his adult life to spreading the word about Vietnames martial art, Vovinam.
updated 1:47 PM EST, Fri November 28, 2014
England cricketer Nick Compton shares insight into "drive and courage" it takes to face fears as top batsman.
updated 7:59 PM EST, Wed November 26, 2014
Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson says he was just doing his "job right" when he shot and killed black teenager Michael Brown.
updated 8:18 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
The interior of the Formosa Boulevard Mass Rapid Transit Station in Kaohsiung, in southern Taiwan.
Stunning stations where your first priority won't be finding the nearest exit.
updated 6:18 PM EST, Tue November 25, 2014
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says women's "nature is different," sparking fury.
updated 5:43 AM EST, Mon November 24, 2014
A 30-year-old woman has been charged with attempting to kill a baby police say spent five days down a drain before being discovered by cyclists.
updated 8:21 PM EST, Thu November 20, 2014
If it wasn't for a comic's skit, Bill Cosby would still be America's favorite father, says expert.
updated 7:51 PM EST, Sun November 23, 2014
Where do hip young things hang out in Taiwan?
updated 10:50 AM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
Obama orders the most sweeping overhaul of U.S. immigration in decades, prioritizing the deportation of "felons, not families."
updated 4:06 PM EST, Tue November 18, 2014
Fighters loyal to ISIS are now in control of Derna, a city on Libya's Mediterranean coast.
updated 6:19 PM EST, Fri November 21, 2014
China and likely other countries have the capacity to shut down the U.S. power grid, says the NSA.
updated 2:45 PM EST, Wed November 19, 2014
The founder of a U.S. nonprofit that works with returning soldiers is named CNN's Hero of the Year.
updated 12:54 PM EST, Fri November 28, 2014
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT