Grandview business destroyed in explosion passed 2012 inspection

Business was due for new inspection in 2017

GRANDVIEW, Mo. - The Grandview business destroyed in an explosion may have been due for a fire marshal's inspection soon. 

JW's Lawn and Garden Equipment had a valid license with the city of Grandview.

Court records show owner Jim Witt has a history of financial problems.

Those records show 18 judgments and liens against Witt over the last 20 plus years from various financial institutions and medical providers.

State records show Witt first registered his business with the state of Missouri more than 30 years ago in 1985.

Investigators from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spent Wednesday looking for clues near the explosion site. They found materials to manufacture fireworks.

Grandview Fire Marshal Lou Austin was also at the explosion scene Tuesday night and Wednesday.

He said places with a lot of people, like a nursing home for example, will get an inspection each year to make sure there are no fire code issues. But inspections are not that frequent at a shop like JW's.

"Most of the time we get around to a regular business like this one maybe every five to seven years," Austin said.

As a result, the last inspection for JW's was in September 2012.

The 41 Action News Investigators obtained that report. It shows a full inspection was done after a crew doing a pre-inspection had concerns.

But the inspection found while the main floor had a large amount of inventory, much of it on the floor, there was a clear path to the back of the building.

Only a couple of issues were noted.

Owner Jim Witt was instructed to unplug some extension cords, which he did. And the inspector advised Witt to purchase new fire extinguishers or have current ones inspected.

"It appears there was nothing, no red flags to give us an indication of a change in the type of business that was going on here," said Austin.

That inspection took place before Austin was fire marshal.

He said the business would probably have been re-inspected in 2017.

If inspectors had found fireworks, it could've been a red flag, because according to ATF, "the manufacture of consumer fireworks requires a manufacturer's license."

"Unknown, nothing would've generated us to go in any earlier unless we had a complaint from some source," Austin said.

ATF inspectors did find a wood burning stove in the business which possibly may have ignited the fireworks material.

Witt told the inspector doing the 2012 report he had a guard dog at his business around the clock. Austin said there was no sign of a dog following the explosion.

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Andy Alcock can be reached at anderson.alcock@kshb.com.

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