14 hurt in Kansas City gas blast fire.14 hurt,
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Published on Feb 19, 2013
Shortly after 6pm tonight:
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A popular restaurant in an entertainment district here became engulfed in towering flames on Tuesday evening after a gas main exploded, rattling the earth, leaving shards of glass and brick strewn about and injuring more than a dozen people, some severe. The authorities were trying to determine what triggered the blast. There were reports that it might have been caused by a car crash or by construction workers, said Rhonda Flores, a spokeswoman for the Police Department. There were no initial reports of deaths, she said.
Many people in surrounding buildings had complained of a strong smell of gas during the day. Because of the odor, the restaurant, JJ's, was not operating its kitchen at the time of the blast, KSHB-TV reported. Shortly after inspectors from the gas company told people at the restaurant to leave, the building exploded, the station reported. It was shortly after 6 p.m., Ms. Flores said.
Five victims were being treated on Tuesday night at the University of Kansas Hospital, with two of them in serious condition and one in critical condition, said Bob Hallinan, a hospital spokesman. They had been injured by debris, not burned, Mr. Hallinan said. The hospital expected to receive a burn victim from another hospital, he said.
A physician at St. Luke's Hospital said at a news conference that it had two victims in critical condition, one with severe burns and one with severe cuts, and six others who had walked in for treatment.
Speaking to reporters near the scene of the blaze, David Frantze, the brother of the restaurant's owner, described a sober sight. "To come down here and see a hole in the ground, the flames, is a pretty staggering experience," he said.
The fire at the restaurant, which is near Country Club Plaza, an outdoor shopping and dining district, burned for more than an hour. It left residents who had been evacuated from nearby buildings standing on the sidewalks on a frigid evening
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