Investigators continue to scrutinize JJ's Restaurant explosion - KCTV5

Kansas City Fire makes changes in wake of JJ's explosion

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KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

The Kansas City Fire Department announced Thursday that it has made several changes in the wake of the explosion at a Plaza area restaurant that killed one and injured 15.

The department is changing its procedures for responding to gas leaks.

A battalion chief and monitoring equipment will be sent to gas leak scenes. The pumper truck that initially responded on Feb. 19 after a contractor punctured a gas line did not have any monitoring equipment. Firefighters cleared the scene within minutes of Missouri Gas Energy arriving, turning the incident over to MGE crews.

That won't happen again as a result of these changes.

"Firefighters will continue to consult with utility experts and remain on scene until the situation is resolved," the fire department said in a statement.

Fire department officials have declined to do on-camera interviews about the department's JJ's explosion report and the subsequent changes in procedures.

Inspectors, attorneys and state utility groups gathered at the site at 910 W. 48th St. on Thursday. They are expected to be there for up to three days.

The group involves nearly everyone who was affected by the Feb. 19 natural gas explosion, including MGE, JJ's owners, employees and those who worked in surrounding businesses. Heartland Midwest, who was digging to lay fiber optics to a nearby building for Time Warner Cable, disputes some of the fire department's findings. Heartland has its own experts at the scene and wants to dig into the ground to view the underground area where the gas line ran.

Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Missouri Public Service Commission officials are also on site.  However, the Kansas City Fire Department was not at the scene Thursday. 

City officials are braced to be included in anticipated lawsuits.

The fire department determined that the explosion was an accident after a Heartland Midwest construction crew struck a gas line, allowing natural gas to build up inside the restaurant.

The fire department released the report Wednesday about the four-alarm fire. The report concludes that the origin of the fire was in the kitchen's cooking area and uncontained liquid gas was ignited.

Inspectors say pilot lights in the kitchen combined with a restaurant filled with natural gas led to the explosion.

Megan Cramer, a server at JJ's, was killed, and 15 others were injured, including JJ's employees, Heartland Midwest workers and Missouri Gas Energy crews. Cramer's body was found the next day covered by debris in the bar area.

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