Several injured in blast, fire at Virginia shopping center

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) — Officials said an investigation was underway into the cause of an explosion and large fire at a shopping center in Harrisonburg, Virginia, Saturday morning that injured several people.

Three people were hospitalized as a result of the incident that was reported around 8:30 a.m., the Daily News-Record reported, and several others were injured but treated on-site.

City spokesman Mike Parks told the newspaper a search of the remains of the building had not turned up any other victims, but a second search was being conducted Saturday afternoon to be sure.

Gov. 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 cause was under investigation.

Tobia said when crews arrived, the injured were outside of the building. The fire has since been contained.

Harrisonburg, in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, is a city of around 50,000 that’s home to James Madison University.

The university said in a Facebook post that three students from the school’s Army ROTC program who had been participating in a 10-mile race were among those injured. The building where the blast occurred was about 30 yards (27 meters) from the race’s start and finish line, the school said.

One of the students was hospitalized but was expected to be quickly released, JMU said. Two other students were treated at the scene and released, according to the post.

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