Car crash sets off gas explosion in Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A car crashed into a gas main Tuesday evening in an upscale Kansas City shopping district, sparking a massive blaze that engulfed an entire block and caused multiple injuries, police said.

Seven or eight people were injured and taken to area hospitals, police Sgt. Tony Sanders said Tuesday, who added that there were no reports of fatalities. Sgt. Sanders said the manager of JJ's restaurant, which was destroyed in the blaze, was unable to account for three people, but it was unclear whether they were caught in the blaze or had left earlier.

Earlier, police spokeswoman Rhonda Flores said it appeared that a car crashed into a gas main near JJ's just after 6 p.m. Ms. Flores said an initial call for three ambulances had been increased to 10. She said she had not heard of any fatalities. Ms. Flores said the car crash appeared to have been accidental.

The University of Kansas Hospital is 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.

There were signs that utility work was being done in area. A phone message left Tuesday seeking comment from Missouri Gas Energy was not returned.

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