After body found, focus of Kansas City blast turns to investigation
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A body was found Wednesday morning in the debris of JJ’s restaurant, where fire crews searched for a female server missing after a massive explosion rocked the area just west of Kansas City’s Country Club Plaza Tuesday night.
The body was discovered in the bar area of the building.
In Springfield, Mo., the family of Megan Cramer told The Kansas City Star that it had been contacted by authorities in Kansas City. Cramer, 46, had been a server at JJ’s for several months.
The family said confirmation using medical records might take 24 to 48 hours.
Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi said the restaurant was reduced to rubble 3 or 4 feet deep, with debris too heavy for crews to lift manually, requiring heavy equipment for a careful search.
The fire department is also mindful that, with a winter storm bearing down on Kansas City, it needs to work quickly to try to find anyone who might still be in the building.
The explosion was reported about 6 p.m. Tuesday and is believed to have come from a natural gas leak.
Some witnesses have reported smelling natural gas several hours before the explosion, but Berardi and City Manager Troy Schulte said Wednesday that they were not aware of any gas leak lasting that long.
Berardi said the fire department was called about 5:15 p.m. and told that a construction contractor working in the area had struck a gas line.
He said fire crews arrived quickly, conferred with representatives of Missouri Gas Energy and were told the situation was under control.
“We left the situation in their hands,” Berardi said.
The explosion occurred about 50 minutes later. Berardi said the exact circumstances are under investigation.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James declined to discuss who was to blame, but said the fire department deferred to Missouri Gas Energy.