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Gas explosion in Kansas City sparks fire, injures 14

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — 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, adding that it is believed an accident by a utility contractor might have caused the blast.

City Manager Troy Schulte said he did not know of anyone reported missing and had not heard of any fatalities.

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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. Other witnesses noted signs in the area indicated utility work was being done, and a worker at a restaurant ­destroyed in the fire said the facility was being renovated.

Police Sergeant Tony Sanders said that 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.

“The first thing we need to be concerned about is the people that are injured,” said
Mayor Sly James.

The University of Kansas Hospital was treating five people injured in the blast, said spokesman Bob Hallinan.

He said one person was in critical condition, two were in serious condition, and two others were expected to be released. He said all the injuries were traumatic, such as broken bones, rather than burns or smoke inhalation.

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