Explosion destroys Virginia shopping center, injures several

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) – Officials said an investigation is underway into the cause of an explosion and a big fire in a shopping center in Harrisonburg, Va. on Saturday morning, which left several injured.

Three people were hospitalized following the incident which was reported around 8:30 am, the Daily News-Record reported, and several others were injured but treated on the spot.

City spokesman Mike Parks told the newspaper that a search for the remains of the building did not result in any further casualties, but a second search was underway on Saturday afternoon to be sure.

Parks said the building was a total loss.

Firefighters fight flames at a shopping mall early Saturday, October 17, 2020 in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Officials say an explosion and subsequent fire at the mall injured a few people. (Ian Munro / Daily News-Record via AP)PA

Virginia Mall fire

A firefighter walks through the burning rubble of a shopping mall after an explosion in Harrisonburg, Va. On Saturday, October 17, 2020 (Ian Munro / Daily News-Record via AP)PA

Governor Ralph Northam tweeted that state emergency personnel had been deployed to the area after what he called a gas explosion. But Harrisonburg Fire Chief Matt Tobia told reporters the case was under investigation.

Tobia said when the teams arrived the injured were outside the building. The fire has since been brought under control.

Harrisonburg, in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, is a city of about 50,000 people that is home to James Madison University.

The university said in a Facebook post that three students from the school’s Army ROTC program who had competed in a 10-mile race were among the injured. The building where the explosion occurred was about 30 meters from the race start and finish line, the school said.

One of the students has been hospitalized but is expected to be released quickly, JMU said. According to the publication, two other students were treated at the scene and released.

Following:

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