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Report on JJ’s restaurant blast is delayed until December

Updated: 2014-02-06T17:12:25Z

By MIKE HENDRICKS

The Kansas City Star

It will be December when state utility regulators will issue a final report on the fatal natural gas explosion that leveled a popular Kansas City restaurant.

The report had been expected earlier, but the Missouri Public Service Commission said Tuesday that its investigation into the Feb. 19 blast at JJ’s is ongoing.

Although on-site work is finished, commission staffers still need more information from Missouri Gas Energy before completing their task, senior counsel Robert Berlin said in his latest status report.

Those documents include cellphone logs, Global Positioning System records and answers to questions posed by investigators. An early December release of the report is based on investigators getting those records “in a timely manner.”

MGE promised to turn over the information no later than Friday, Berlin said.

Recently, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration finished its report, citing the telecommunications contractor whose crew accidentally punctured an underground gas line outside the restaurant.

Fumes from that leak filled the building and were ignited, possibly by a pilot light, according to a Kansas City Fire Department investigation. A little more than an hour passed between the time the leak was reported and when the restaurant erupted in flames, which killed a waitress.

Berlin said the Public Service Commission will tie things together in a detailed report complete with the commission staff’s “analysis, conclusions and recommendations.” That report will determine whether the gas company was in compliance with state and federal safety standards, the status report said.

To reach Mike Hendricks, call 816-234-4738 or send email to mhendricks@kcstar.com.

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