Official: Kansas City blast cause unclear, 14 hurt

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by MARIA SUDEKUM

Associated Press

Posted on February 20, 2013 at 12:22 AM

Updated Thursday, Oct 24 at 2:58 AM

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- An official said 14 people have been confirmed as injured in the Kansas City gas explosion fire. The suspected gas explosion sparked a massive fire that engulfed an entire block at an upscale shopping center in Kansas City.

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.

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, but television video showed flames shooting out of the Country Club Plaza.

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.

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