A gas explosion that sparked a massive, block-engulfing blaze in an upscale Kansas City shopping district injured 14 people, a city official said Tuesday evening, adding that it is believed that an accident involving a utility contractor may have caused the blast.
City Manager Troy Schulte said he did not know of anyone being reported missing and had not heard of any fatalities.
Earlier Kansas City police had said the blast was caused by a car crashing into a gas main just after 6 p.m. Fire officials said later they were not aware of a crash being involved in the blast. Other witnesses noted street signs in the area indicated utility work was being done in the area, and a worker at a restaurant destroyed in the fire said the facility was being renovated at the time.
Police Sgt. Tony Sanders said the manager of JJ's restaurant was unable to account for three people, but it was unclear whether they were caught in the blaze or had left earlier.
"The first thing we need to be concerned about is the people that are injured," said Mayor Sly James, who also praised the work of first responders. James said officials were in contact with Missouri Gas Energy.
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.