Missouri-a gas explosion at JJ’s restaurant burns down completely after a gas explosion, fire injured 14 people officials said. Cadavers dogs have been searching at the charred remains. Paul Berardi, fire chief of Kansas City, said late on Tuesday that the search for possible victims could take hours and he expects his crews are on the scene all night.
Although officials have said there is no report of casualties, Berardi said, “I would fear that there are always casualties in a scenario like this.”
The gas explosion occurred just after 6 p.m. and the resulting fire burned down the restaurant JJ’s. Officials said more than a dozen people were injured, with at least two reported in critical condition.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation; however, a city official said earlier that it’s believed to be caused accidentally by a contractor of a public utility.
The City Manager Troy Schulte said that so far no one has been reported missing and no deaths have been reported.
Kansas City police said the explosion occurred when a vehicle crashed into a master gas pipe shortly after 6 pm. Firefighters reported later that they were unaware that a collision had occurred. Other witnesses said some signs in the area indicated that it was doing utility work in the area, while the employee in a restaurant destroyed by fire said the place has been remodeled at that time.
Sergeant Tony Sanders said the JJ’s restaurant manager could not locate with other three people, though it was unclear if they were trapped in the fire or left earlier.
CBS affiliate KCTV Kansas City reported of witnesses seeing people running out of the restaurant covered in blood.
“The first thing we have to worry about is people who are injured,” said Mayor Sly James, who also acknowledged the work of rescuers who arrived first at the scene. James said officials are in contact with the gas company Missouri Gas Energy.
The hospital of the University of Kansas was treating five people injured in the blast, said spokesman Bob Hallinan. He added that one person was in critical condition; two serious and two others were going to enlist. He said all the injuries were injuries, fractures, and burns or smoke inhalation.
There were signs that utility work was being done in area. A phone message left Tuesday seeking comment from Missouri Gas Energy was not immediately returned.
Jim Ligon, a bartender who has worked at JJ’s restaurant for five years, wasn’t working Tuesday night but said he started getting texts and calls from co-workers minutes after the explosion.
He said the incident happened during the peak of weekday happy hour, when there is typically anywhere from 15 to 45 people in the bar area as well as three to five tables of diners at the restaurant
The gas smell was still very strong near the area, long after the explosion. Missouri Gas Energy Company has not commented on the matter.
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.