Kansas City, Missouri: A fire triggered by a natural gas explosion that appeared to have originated underground engulfed a restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri, on Tuesday, injuring at least a half dozen people, authorities said.
The gas explosion shook the Country Club Plaza, an upscale shopping area about 30 blocks south of downtown Kansas City, just after 6 pm local time, Kansas City Fire Department spokesman James Garrett told CNN.
Garrett said 14 people were injured. Nine were taken to hospitals, including two with life-threatening injuries.A witness, Bryce McElroy, who lives about two blocks away, said he heard a loud boom and headed toward the noise, arriving on the scene to see flames leaping from a manhole cover and advancing on the restaurant.
Jeff Hansen, who lives about four blocks away, said he went to the scene to offer assistance after hearing the blast and saw six to eight people visibly injured who were leaving the area.
"Obviously there were multiple injuries," he said. "The question is if there is anybody still in there."
Firefighters swarmed into the area to battle flames consuming the restaurant as police officers ordered bystanders to move two blocks back from the fire as a precaution. The smell of gas fumes permeated the air around the scene.
The University of Kansas Hospital received five patients from the blast and fire, two of whom drove themselves from the scene, hospital spokesman Bob Hallinan told Reuters. Of the three patients transported to the hospital, one was listed in critical condition and two in serious condition, he said.
He characterized those three injuries as "traumas, not burns."