Injuries reported in massive Kansas City fire

Maria Sudekum Associated Press Published:

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- Multiple injuries were being reported Tuesday evening after a suspected gas explosion sparked a massive fire that engulfed an entire block at an upscale shopping center in Kansas City.

Police spokeswoman Rhonda Flores said it appeared that a car crashed into a gas main near a restaurant at 6:03 p.m. Flores said injuries were reported but that did not know how many or how severe. She noted an initial call for three ambulances had been increased to 10. She said she had not heard of any reported fatalities. Flores said the car crash appeared to have been an accidental.

Kerry O'Connor, a spokeswoman for St. Luke's Hospital, which is near the scene of the fire, said several patients were on the way to the hospital. She said they haven't been assessed yet but "they appear to be critical at this time."

Fire officials didn't immediately return a phone call seeking comment Tuesday evening.

The, but television video showed flames shooting out of the Country Club Plaza.

The smell of gas was very strong near the area long after the suspected explosion.

Video showed dozens of firefighters and other emergency responders battling a massive blaze that appeared to have engulfed an entire block, with flames burning through the roofs. Black smoke swirled in the air and debris littered surrounding streets.

The shopping area was established in 1922 by J.C. Nichols. Based on the architecture of Seville, Spain, it includes retail, restaurants, apartments and offices.