Email records reveal subcontractor that struck gas line before Plaza fire attempted to submit permit

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - More details are emerging about a missing excavation permit for the subcontractor that struck a gas line on the day of a deadly explosion on Kansas City's Country Club Plaza.

On Monday, 41 Action News reported that Heartland Midwest did not have an approved permit to dig near the site of JJ's restaurant.

41 Action News also reported that the company attempted to get the permit approved the day after the incident that killed one person and left 15 people injured.

Through an open-records request, 41 Action News is now learning more about the communication from Heartland Midwest and the City of Kansas City.

Last Wednesday during a news conference about the Plaza fire, City Manager Troy Schulte answered questions about whether or not the subcontractor had a permit to dig.

"Let me jump in and calm this issue down," Schulte said. "There have been reports they didn't have a permit. It's very possible the permit was filed under another contractor. They may have done everything right in terms of paperwork, but we need more time to investigate that issue."

Just as Schulte was making that statement, email records obtained by 41 Action News show an employee with Heartland emailed city officials.

"Attached are the permit applications with the confirmation sheets showing they went through; not sure what happened but we are in a time crunch and I need the copies ASAP," the email said. READ THE EMAIL

Included with the email were an excavation permit, dated February 6, and a map of the planned work area. The documents also included a fax confirmation sheet that was also dated February 6. READ THE PERMIT APPLICATION

As 41 Action News also reported on Monday, records from Missouri One Call show Heartland Midwest put in a request to have utility lines marked on February 6.

Email records also show city employees searching for approved permits under other entities like Missouri Gas Energy (MGE) and Time Warner Cable, who hired Heartland Midwest to install the underground cable.

They found nothing, according to city officials.

On Thursday, a city staffer sent this email: "Heartland is trying to get excavation permits after the explosion event at JJ's restaurant. I intend for our group not to process unless upper management or legal staff tells us to do so. They are trying to say that they submitted the excavation permit applications before the work but they did not."

Today, 41 Action News asked city spokesman Pat Klein about the controversy over the permit.

Klein said city employees could find no trace of the permit application that Heartland claimed to have sent on February 6. However, after checking phone records, they did find a fax that went through on that date.

RELATED | Official timeline for investigation into JJ's explosion

There is no explanation for why city employees could not find the application documents. Even so, Klein said the application submitted by Heartland needed revisions because they lacked details like the dimensions of the planned dig.

No fee would have been collected in this case. Klein said that since Google started laying its cable lines, the city has waived permit fees for other telecommunication-related excavation.

"Heartland never followed up with us and we never sent them an approved permit for that site," Klein said.

An attorney representing Heartland Midwest, Brad Russell, has not responded to repeated 41 Action News emails and phone calls seeking comment.

Kansas City approved an excavation permit for Heartland Midwest to lay underground cable in the Northland for Time Warner on Monday, records show. The company submitted that application on February 19, the day of the fire. SEE EXAMPLE OF APPROVED EXCAVATION PERMIT

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