An explosion ignited a four alarm-fire on the west side of Country Club Plaza in Kansas City on Tuesday, believed to have originated from a gas main at J.J.'s restaurant. The massive fire billowed out heavy smoke as fire crews struggle to put out the blaze that sent multiple people to the hospital. Here's what you need to know about the Kansas City restaurant fire.
1. The Explosion Happened at J.J.'s Restaurant at 6 P.M.
Kansas City Fire Battalion Chief James Garrett told the Kansas City Star that the explosion originated from a gas main outside of J.J's restaurant at 910 W. 48th St. in Kansas City. The explosion occurred just before 6 p.m. and took several hours for crews to extinguish the fire.
J.J.'s is an upscale restaurant located two blocks west of County Club Place in Kansas city and according to its website is one of the longest operating independent restaurants in the city.
The restaurant made the following statement on its Facebook page:
Please keep our friends and families in your hearts and prayers. At this time we are still trying to assess the situation and make sure our coworkers and customers are safe.
2. The Cause of the Fire is Not Known
Earlier reports said the blast was ignited after a vehicle struck a gas main outside of the restaurant, but fire officials said they were not aware of a crash. The gas company for the area, Missouri Gas Energy, said in a statement that a utility contractor may have caused the explosion.
“Early indications are that a contractor doing underground work struck a natural gas line, but the investigation continues.”
3. The Blaze Engulfed an Entire Block
The massive fire engulfed the entire block with flames burning through building roofs.
4. People Complained of the Smell of Gas Before the Explosion
A woman who lives on the same block as J.J.'s reported that she smelled smoke about 15 minutes before the fire broke out. The New York Times said that because of the odor, the restaurant was not using the kitchen at the time of the blast. An inspected was called to the restaurant and just after they told people to leave the building, it exploded.
5. 14 People Were Sent to the Hospital
A man with blood covering his face was seen being wheeled out on a gurney as crews were spreading tarps on the street to prepare for further injuries. At least 14 people have been reported injured. Five people were being treated at the University of Kansas Hospital where one was in critical condition, two serious condition and two other were expected to be released.