The circumstances surrounding Tuesday's natural gas explosion just west of the Country Club Plaza - that killed one person, injured more than a dozen, and destroyed JJ's restaurant - were discussed in an afternoon press conference.
Kansas City Mayor Sly James, Kansas City Fire Chief Paul Berardi, and Missouri Gas Energy's Robert Hack provided a timeline and more details about Tuesday's fire and explosion at a 4:45 pm press conference.
Reports of gas smells prior to explosion, not confirmed
According to MGE's Robert Hack, a 2-inch gas line was hit. But Hack stated that "no calls came in prior to 4:55 pm" on Tuesday about gas odors. This contradicts an earlier story in the Kansas City Star that stated "hours before the explosion, witnesses reported a strong smell of gas." The Star also reported that "people who live and work in the area reported smelling gas for some time."
In the afternoon press conference, Mayor Sly James also addressed this issue. "People are reporting a lot of different things," James said. "(There were) no calls that indicate that they (residents/business owners) said there was gas in my neighborhood."
James stressed that there are still a lot of unknowns when he said, "We still don't know what's true and what's not."
Creating a timeline of events leading up to the explosion
According to Fire Chief Paul Berardi, his department ceased operations at the site, as of 3:30 pm.
"We're nearly 24 hours from the explosion so we've been able to piece together the following timeline," said Berardi.
4:54 PM: The initial call came in to 911.
4:55 PM: The Kansas City Fire Department (KCFD) alerted Missouri Gas Energy (MGE). "That reported a pipe breach," said Berardi.
4:56 PM: KCFD changed the priority call and moved it up in priority "and we responded emergency."
4:58 PM: KCFD's pumper company #19 responded.
5:04 PM: Pumper #19 arrived on the scene.
5:16 PM: MGE's first responder, a utilities specialty worker, arrived on the scene. "Our first responder determined the situation was difficult," said MGE's Robert Hack. "He called for backup."
5:17 PM: Pumper #19 returned to service.
5:31 PM: MGE's second staffer arrived on scene. "Prior to the explosion, a three-person crew with a backhoe from MGE arrived on the scene and began to set up their operation," said Berardi.
5:47 PM: MGE's third staffer arrived on scene. Berardi: "Prior to the explosion the backhoe attempted to vent where they thought the location of the leak had been."
6:04 PM: MGE had six people on the scene.
"That's the extent of the timeline that we have up until the explosion," said Berardi.