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At Least 3 Injured in Explosion at Virginia Strip Mall At Least 3 Injured in Explosion at Virginia Strip Mall
(about 3 hours later)
At least three people were transported to a hospital, two of them with serious injuries, after an explosion and fire on Saturday morning at a strip mall in Harrisonburg, Va., the authorities said. At least three people were transported to hospitals, two of them with serious injuries, after an explosion and fire on Saturday morning at a strip mall in Harrisonburg, Va., the authorities said.
The cause of the explosion was unknown but was under investigation, Michael Parks, a spokesman for the city, which is about 130 miles northwest of Richmond, said at a news conference. He said the two-story strip mall was a “complete loss.”The cause of the explosion was unknown but was under investigation, Michael Parks, a spokesman for the city, which is about 130 miles northwest of Richmond, said at a news conference. He said the two-story strip mall was a “complete loss.”
Mr. Parks said firefighters were searching for anyone who might be unaccounted for at the shopping center, which consisted of about four businesses, including a music store and a recording studio. A statement from Columbia Gas of Virginia said that crews shut off natural gas service where the explosion happened.
“At this point, we have identified no issues with our facilities,” the statement said. “No odor of gas leaks were reported to Columbia, and we have found no recent reports of natural gas leaks in the area.”
Mr. Parks said firefighters accounted for those at the shopping center, which consisted of about four businesses, including a music store and a recording studio.
A spokeswoman for Sentara Healthcare said two people were airlifted to a hospital. The City of Harrisonburg said on Twitter that two people were in stable condition and only one suffered minor injuries.
Those injured were outside the strip mall when emergency responders arrived, Chief Matthew Tobia of the Harrisonburg Fire Department said at a news conference on Saturday morning.Those injured were outside the strip mall when emergency responders arrived, Chief Matthew Tobia of the Harrisonburg Fire Department said at a news conference on Saturday morning.
Officials at James Madison University said on Facebook that among those injured was one of its students, who was transported to a hospital with minor injuries and was expected to be released soon. Officials at James Madison University said on Facebook that among those injured was one of its students, who was transported to a hospital with minor injuries and was expected to be released soon. The university added that two of its students were treated at the scene and released.
Details on those seriously injured were not immediately available. Two other university students were treated at the scene and released. The students were part of a group of about 30 people from the university’s R.O.T.C. program who were participating in a U.S. Army race. A building exploded about 30 yards from the start and finish lines, the university said.
The students were participating in an unspecified community event off campus, the university said.
“The university is thankful to all first responders actively working on scene,” the statement said.
Technicians from Columbia Gas of Virginia were helping in the emergency response, the company said in a statement.
“Our trained crews are working in partnership with emergency management authorities to help assess the incident and ensure safety,” the statement said.
Some nearby buildings were damaged but not seriously in the explosion, which was reported around 8:30 a.m.Some nearby buildings were damaged but not seriously in the explosion, which was reported around 8:30 a.m.
Some businesses in the mall confirmed their employees were safe.Some businesses in the mall confirmed their employees were safe.
“We have received information from our landlord that the store has been destroyed by an explosion,” a representative for one of the stores, Hometown Music, wrote on Facebook. “We were not open and the employees are OK. Thanks for you concern and prayers. … That’s all I know for now.”“We have received information from our landlord that the store has been destroyed by an explosion,” a representative for one of the stores, Hometown Music, wrote on Facebook. “We were not open and the employees are OK. Thanks for you concern and prayers. … That’s all I know for now.”
Another store, Blue Sprocket Sound, wrote on Facebook: “We don’t have all the details yet about what happened at our building. But at this time our crew is safe, and that’s the most important thing. Our hearts go out to the other businesses in the area, and want to thank all the first responders who are working hard on the scene.”Another store, Blue Sprocket Sound, wrote on Facebook: “We don’t have all the details yet about what happened at our building. But at this time our crew is safe, and that’s the most important thing. Our hearts go out to the other businesses in the area, and want to thank all the first responders who are working hard on the scene.”
Christopher B. Jones, a City Council member, asked residents to pray for the business owners affected, those who were injured and for emergency responders. “We’re praying for them and hoping that everyone comes out of this safe and alive,” he said.