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Contractor Dug Without Permission Before Deadly Blast

Elana Gordon

A trenching contractor that purportedly cut a gas line before last week’s deadly Country Club Plaza explosion had not been allowed to dig in the area.

A Kansas City official confirms this today.

Excavators are required to get a permit from Kansas City before digging. Assistant City Manager Pat Klein has told KCUR News that the application came only after JJ’s Restaurant blew up last Tuesday evening, killing one and injuring some 15 others.

In Klein’s words: “The contractor group did not have an approved permit to be excavating, Heartland Midwest.”

Asked if the trenching contractor had applied for a digging permit, Klein said: “No, not before the accident.”

Klein said there is no cost-saving by avoiding a permit, which he said are issued free of charge.

There is no official response from the company.

Kansas City Fire Department investigators continue to prepare a report on the explosion.

Various sources indicate a gas line was accidentally cut on the east side of JJ’s. Firefighters arrived and conferred with trouble-shooters from Missouri Gas Energy Company. Fire Chief Paul Berardi has confirmed firefighters left after being told by MGE workers the situation was under control. Minutes later the restaurant exploded and burned.

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