Entire Block in Kansas City Burns After Explosion

Cadaver dogs searching rubble after huge blaze

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 20, 2013 12:28 AM CST | Updated Feb 20, 2013 3:36 AM CST

(Newser) – At least 14 people were injured, five of them critically, when a gas explosion sparked a huge blast in an upscale Kansas City shopping district. The fire, which completely destroyed JJ's Restaurant, engulfed an entire block of the Country Club Plaza, reports the AP. The force of the blast, which came hours after residents reported a strong smell of natural gas in the area, knocked out windows across a wide area and was felt almost a mile away. Cadaver dogs are searching through the rubble.

"It sounded like thunder, but it felt like an earthquake," a worker in a nearby building tells the Kansas City Star. There were relatively few people inside the usually packed restaurant at the time because surrounding streets had been closed off while the smell of gas was investigated. Missouri Gas Energy issued a statement saying "early indications are that a contractor doing underground work struck a natural gas line, but the investigation continues."

Firefighters battle a massive fire at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.   (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Allison Long)
Firefighters on the scene of a gas explosion and massive fire at JJ's restaurant at the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Mo.   (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Tammy Ljungblad)
Fire and smoke rise at an upscale shopping district in Kansas City, Mo.   (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star, Keith Myers)
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