World News – US – At least 3 injured in explosion at Virginia Strip Mall


Mall was a « total loss », city official said Cause of explosion unknown

At least three people were taken to hospitals, including two seriously injured, after an explosion and fire on Saturday morning at a shopping center in Harrisonburg, Va., authorities said

The cause of the explosion was unknown but was under investigation, said Michael Parks, a spokesman for the city, located about 130 miles northwest of Richmond, during a press conference He said the two-story mall was a « total loss »

There was no information from Saturday afternoon that indicated foul play or anything other than an accident, Mr. Parks said Investigators have yet to rule out a gas leak

Steve Blando, spokesperson for the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, said investigators from the agency’s Washington division would work with Harrisonburg firefighters to investigate on « the origin and cause of the explosion and the fire that followed”He said no further information was available

A statement from Columbia Gas, of Virginia, said crews shut down natural gas service where the explosion occurred

« At this point we have not identified any issues with our facilities, » the statement read. « No gas leak odor has been reported at Columbia, and we have not found any recent natural gas in the region « 

The city said firefighters took into account those in the mall during their main search of the mall, which included around four businesses, including a music store and a recording studio Mr Parks said firefighters will do a final search just in case

A spokeswoman for Sentara Healthcare said two people were airlifted to UVA medical center; the town of Harrisonburg said on Twitter that two people were in stable condition at the medical center One person had minor injuries and was being treated at Sentara RMH medical center

The injured were outside the mall when help arrived, Harrisonburg Fire Department Chief Matthew Tobia told a press conference on Saturday morning

Officials at James Madison University said on Facebook the injured included a college student, who was taken to hospital with minor injuries and expected to be released shortly

The students were part of a group of about 30 people from the ROTC program who were participating in a US Army Course One building exploded about 30 yards from the start and finish lines, said the university

Some nearby buildings were damaged but not seriously during the explosion, which was reported around 8:30 am and was heard and felt by people who lived nearby

Joe Lockinger, who lives about a quarter of a mile from where the blast occurred, was finishing his morning coffee when he and his wife heard the blast

“We were sitting there talking about what we were going to do during the day, and suddenly that big bang, and the whole house was shaking,” he said “We thought it was a bomb, because it was such a force « 

Mr. Lockinger and his neighbors rushed outside and saw what he described as a « mushroom »

Later he went to the site of the blast and said it looked like a « war zone » He saw a sheet of aluminum cladding that had flown about 60 feet in the air in a tree because of the explosion

Noah Yoder, who lives about half a mile north of where the mall was leveled, said he fell asleep when he heard a « loud boom » that woke him up, and he immediately felt a shock wave hit him

« It shook my whole body and rocked my whole house, » he said « My roommate said it was like someone had hit his car in our house »

“We received information from our owner that the store was destroyed by an explosion,” a representative from one of the stores, Hometown Music, wrote on Facebook “We were not open and the employees are fine Thank you for your concern and your prayers … That’s all I know for now « 

Another store, Blue Sprocket Sound, wrote on Facebook: « We don’t yet have full details of what happened in our building But at the moment our crew is safe, and it’s is most important Our hearts go out to other businesses in the area and would like to thank all of the hard working first responders on the scene « 

Harrisonburg, VA, Explosion, James Madison University

World News – US – At least 3 injured in explosion at Virginia Strip Mall


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