Was the Kansas City fire caused by an explosion? (+video)
A Kansas City fire, apparently caused by a gas line explosion, has injured at least 14 people and destroyed parts of a city block modeled after Seville, Spain.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.
A gas explosion that sparked a massive, block-engulfing blaze in an upscale Kansas City shopping district injured 14 people, a city official said Tuesday evening, adding that an accident by a utility contractor may have caused the blast.
City Manager Troy Schulte said he did not know of anyone being reported missing and had not heard of any fatalities.
Earlier, Kansas City police had said the blast was caused by a car crashing into a gas main just after 6 p.m. Fire officials said later they were not aware of a crash being involved in the blast. Other witnesses noted street signs indicated utility work was being done in the area, and a worker at a restaurant destroyed in the fire said the facility was being renovated at the time.
Police Sgt. Tony Sanders said the manager of JJ's restaurant was unable to account for three people, but it was unclear whether they were caught in the blaze or had left earlier.
"The first thing we need to be concerned about is the people that are injured," said Mayor Sly James, who also praised the work of first responders. James said officials were in contact with Missouri Gas Energy.
The University of Kansas Hospital was treating five people injured in the blast, said spokesman Bob Hallinan. He said one person was in critical condition, two were in serious condition and two others were expected to be released. He said all the injuries were traumatic, such as broken bones, rather than burns or smoke inhalation.
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.