Kansas City gas blast kills 1, injures at least 15 (PHOTOS)
Kansas City mayor Sly James, said 15 people were injured in the
restaurant explosion. Six people have since been hospitalized, with
three in a critical condition, one serious and two stable.
The car crash which allegedly sparked the explosion happened on Tuesday evening, instigating a flurry of phone calls to the emergency services, according to officials.
Thick black smoke, towering flames, and scattered shards of window glass covered the area in which JJs restaurant was located. Authorities are still in the process of establishing the role of a car crash in the fire, with reports suggesting an accident by a utility contractor may have been a key factor.
Several patients were taken to St. Luke’s Hospital, some of whom were reportedly on the brink of death.
“They appear to be critical at this time,” Kerry
O'Connor, a hospital spokeswoman told AP. A number of restaurant
employees were among the casualties.
The exact number of people injured in the fire is yet to be
clarified, as those injured were rushed to three separate hospitals
in the area. The University of Kansas Hospital took in five people
suffering from trauma injuries as a result of the blast, with one
other critical. Some reports have estimated the number to be as
high as 19.
No deaths have been confirmed, but cadaver dogs have been
searching the remains of the restaurant for potential fatalities.
Two people were initially unaccounted for, according to the
restaurant manager. However, they may have left the premises prior
to the blaze. The number missing was later reduced to one.
The blaze, which quickly engulfed the upmarket ‘Country Club
Plaza’ shopping area and entertainment district, reportedly set
fire to an entire block nearby. Many people were likely to have
been inside the restaurant when it when up in flames, Fire Chief
Paul Berardi told Reuters.
The fire was successfully contained. However, a strong smell of gas lingered in the area for many hours following the explosion.
The smell of gas earlier in the day had led JJs to shut down its kitchen. Road signs indicated that utility work was being carried out in the area, which was later confirmed by a restaurant employee.