7 hurt in Kansas City restaurant blast and fire, police say

An apparent natural gas explosion and fire injured at least seven people at a Kansas City, Mo., restaurant and wine bar.
(KCTV-5 / Associated Press)

An apparent natural gas explosion and fire at a Kansas City, Mo., restaurant and wine bar Tuesday evening left at least seven people hurt, police said.

The blast happened just outside the Country Club Plaza, a posh Kansas City shopping district, at JJ’s Restaurant, according to witness and local media reports.

Seven or eight injured people were taken to hospitals, police Sgt. Tony Sanders told the Associated Press. Police spokeswoman Rhonda Flores said an initial call for three ambulances had been increased to 10. The blast apparently was triggered by a car crash, which Flores said appeared to be an accident.


“I was sitting in my living room folding laundry, and felt in my chest -- and heard -- an explosion,” said Jamie Lawless, who lives about two blocks from JJ’s, a popular wine bar. “I started freaking out, and I was looking around, and then I saw other people walking outside. You could see giant black smoke billowing up from the plaza area, and nobody really knew what it was.”

Kerry O’Connor, a spokeswoman for nearby St. Luke’s Hospital, said, “We are getting some injured into the ER. I understand they are severely injured.” She could not confirm numbers.

Jill Chadwick, a spokeswoman for nearby Kansas University Medical Center, reported that the hospital had four patients, most suffering cuts, according to an interview with KMBC-9.

Firefighters arrived to fight huge flames over the building, and when smoke cleared, local media helicopter footage showed a collapsed roof and cinder blocks blown out onto the sidewalk.

Residents first reported the blast and fire about 6 p.m. Some witnesses near the restaurant reported smelling strong gas minutes before the explosion, which shattered glass and knocked paintings off walls. The gas smell remained after the fire.

The restaurant’s website touts an 1,800-bottle wine list and a review from Wine Spectator saying the restaurant had “one of the best wine lists in the world.”



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