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Utility report on JJ's explosion pushed back again

Published on -9/1/2013, 9:23 AM

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) -- State utility regulators have again pushed back their report determining whether Missouri Gas Energy was in compliance with state and federal safety standards leading up to and in response to the Kansas City restaurant explosion that killed a waitress.

Missouri Public Service Commission senior counsel Robert Berlin told regulators on Tuesday that more information was needed from MGE before the report on the Feb. 19 blast at JJ's could be completed, The Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/12Mk1wd ) reported.

Those documents include cellphone logs, Global Positioning System records and answers to questions posed by investigators.

Berlin said releasing the report in early December is dependent on getting those records "in a timely manner." The commission initially had planned to have its report finished June 27.

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

"The scope and complexity of this tragic event calls for a comprehensive and detailed investigation, which takes time," Missouri Gas Energy spokeswoman Vicki Granado said in a written statement to The Associated Press. "Our first priority is to provide complete and accurate responses to the information requests from the MPSC, which has involved the review of thousands of pages of records."

The explosion happened after a crew for Heartland Midwest, an Olathe, Kan.-based cable company subcontractor, breached a natural gas supply line with an underground borer. 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.

Megan Cramer, 46, who had been a server at JJ's for five months, was killed and 15 other people were injured.

The U.S. Department of Labor in mid-August proposed a $161,000 fine against Heartland Midwest for two willful and three serious violations.

Cramer's family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Jackson County against MGE, Time Warner Cable Midwest, USIC Locating Services Inc., Southern Union Co., Heartland Midwest LLC and an employee of Heartland. Other lawsuits have also been filed since the explosion.

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