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Witnesses Describe Plaza Gas Leak Explosion

Story By: Larry Stine



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  Original Published: 3/28/2013

An investigation into a deadly explosion at a Kansas City restaurant offers new details on what happened.

Ryan Kath has the story.

Kansas City firefighters were at JJ'S an hour before the explosion on Feb. 19.

"Do we have the gas services on the way?"

"Yes they are."

"Copy because we have a strong gas leak here."

But new information about what they saw and what they said before leaving the gas leak in the hand of MGE workers.

A Kansas City Police investigation obtained by 41 Action News includes interviews with JJ'S employees.

They told detectives that along with blowing out candles and turning off stovesm "the fire departmnet told them to open the doors and let the gas vent."

A customer who was in the restaurant at the time told 41 Action New he asked firefighters about his own safety.

"You asked them, should we evacuate? asked reporter Ryan Kath.

"Yes," said customer Joe Whisler.

"And their response was? asked Kath.

"Well, they said no, we'll just open up the doors and air this out," Whisler said.

The police investigation also includes an interview with the fire captain of Pumper 19, who told a detective he could hear gas leaking and smell gas inside.

But the fire department left moments after the first MGE worker arrived.

The detective asked, "in your experence with this type of call, does MGE generally tell you they have it handled?"

Th fire captain answered, "Yes. We ask them if there was anything we could do. He said no. So I told him we are leaving it with you."

Less than an hour later, that same pumper was one of the first fire trucks to arrive as flames engulfed the restaurant.

JJ'S employees also described the actions o MGE workers to police.

After being told to close the restaurant, a manager said they began "calling people to cancel their reservations," adding, "the MGE employee did not make it sound urgent."

A customer told us he overheard the MGE worker's conversation with JJ'S staff.

"And in so many words said, 'We better just shut it down. Not, 'Shut it down' emphatically, not with urgency in his voice, better shut it down," said customer Mark Ebbitts.

Finally tonight, new details about the horror employees experienced when the building exploded.

On employee was stnding at the bar next to Megan Cramer, who died in the blast.

The report says, "everything became pitch black, bloo was everywhere and something heavy was on top of him, as he was crawling out, he heard Megan asking for help."


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