Official: 14 people hurt in Kansas City gas fire

8:03 PM, Feb 19, 2013   |    comments
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A car crashed into a gas main Tuesday evening in an upscale Kansas City shopping district, sparking a massive blaze that engulfed an entire block and caused multiple injuries, police said.

An official says 14 people have been confirmed injured. 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.

People have been cleared from the area around the restaurant.

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 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.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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