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Final state report on fatal blast at JJ’s restaurant delayed until February

Updated: 2013-12-31T00:38:14Z

By MIKE HENDRICKS

The Kansas City Star

State investigators have put off until February the release of their final report on the fatal natural-gas explosion at JJ’s restaurant.

Missouri Public Service Commission staff had promised to publish the results of their nearly yearlong investigation in early December but a status report posted Monday on the commission’s website said the gas incident report is now likely to be filed on or before Feb. 6.

If that self-imposed deadline is met, it would bealmost two weeks before the first anniversary of the blast and subsequent fire that leveled the popular Kansas City restaurant at 910 W. 48th St., just west the Country Club Plaza.

A spokesman for the commission, which regulates public utilities in the state, declined to explain a reason for the delay, but the status report suggests that investigators received “a substantial number” of documents and records from Missouri Gas Energy when the utility provided its responses to investigator’s requests for information.

According to the the commission, the final report “will explain in detail the facts surrounding” the blast, “as well as staff’s analysis, conclusions and recommendations.”

One person was killed and more than a dozen others were injured Feb. 19 when fumes from a gas leak ignited, possibly by a pilot light, inside JJ’s.

An hour earlier, a crew using underground boring equipment punctured a gas line near the restaurant and called 911 to report it.

Why the gas was not shut off during that interim is one focus of the state investigation, which will determine whether MGE complied with state regulations and federal and state safety standards.

Previously, the Kansas City Fire Department and the federal Occupational Health and Safety Administration issued separate reports on the blast. OSHA proposed $161,000 in penalties against the Olathe-based drilling company, Heartland Midwest LLC.

Several lawsuits filed by victims of the explosion are pending.

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

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