KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A vehicle struck a gas main outside of JJ's Restaurant on the Country Club Plaza, sparking an explosion that wounded at least nine people early Tuesday evening.
One witness reported seeing a large flame that originated near a backhoe working close to the restaurant.
Heavy smoke and flames engulfed the restaurant just after 6 p.m.
Fire and rescue crews were being pulled back around 6:40 p.m. after the smell of gas was detected. The flames were still raging as of 7 p.m.
Of the nine people injured, at least five are critically hurt.
Patients are being taken to KU Medical Center, Truman Medical Center, Research Medical Center and St. Luke's on the Plaza. Six people were transported by 7:10 p.m. At least 12 ambulances are still on the scene.
Fire officials from Johnson County and Kansas City, Kan., sent crews to provide the Kansas City, Mo., Fire Department with assistance.
A Missouri Gas Energy spokesperson confirmed the company services JJ's, and that crews are on the scene trying to turn off the gas. He wasn't sure if any MGE employees were injured in the blast.
A woman who lives on the same block of JJ's said she smelled smoke about 15 minutes before the fire broke out.
One viewer tweeted us that he felt his house shake from the explosion. He lives at 57th & Locust.
Another viewer tweeted that he felt the explosion at 44th and Pennsylvania: "It was like someone was trying to break in my sliding door!"
Police have set up a command post at 47th and Roanake.
KSHB has crews on the scene.