Three Hospitalized, Two Flown To U.Va. After Explosion Rocks City Shopping Center

Daily News Record

A large explosion rocked a Harrisonburg shopping center Saturday morning.

Three people had to be hospitalized as a result of the explosion and fire at a strip mall located on Miller Circle just off Main Street in Harrisonburg, according to City Spokesman Michael Parks.

Two were flown to University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville with life-threatening injuries while the other suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to Sentara RMH Medical Center, according to city officials on the scene.

City Manager Eric Campbell said two of those hospitalized suffered life-threatening injuries. Parks later said they are in stable condition.

A preliminary search of the building’s remains has not yielded any other individuals, according to Parks.

“We have no reason to believe there’s any other patients or victims at this time,” he said Saturday afternoon.

However, a secondary search to confirm that is taking place, Parks said. He said no first responders were injured working the scene.

Parks said the city did not want to “rush to judgment” on the cause of the explosion, but that there is no reason to believe there was any foul play.

Parks said that the strip mall is a “total loss.”

At 1:35 p.m., JMU announced on its Facebook page that three students suffered minor injuries from the blast. The students were part of a roughly 30-person Army ROTC group running in a 10-mile race with the finish line about 30 yards from the building that exploded.

Harrisonburg Fire Chief Matt Tobia said when crews arrived, the injured were outside the building.

The fire is contained, according to Tobia, but not extinguished and there is no danger to the surrounding area.

Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted that it was a gas explosion, though city officials have not confirmed the cause. Tobia said the investigation is ongoing and may take several days. Parks reiterated this point later Saturday.

Emergency crews from various fire departments in the Shenandoah Valley responded to 38 Miller Circle about 8:30 a.m. The shopping center houses Hometown Music, Element Vapors and Blue Sprocket Sound. The stores are located behind the Wendy’s on South Main Street near Funky’s Skate Center.

Parks said South Main Street should be open Saturday afternoon.

This is an ongoing story and will be updated when information becomes available.

Daily News Record

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