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At Least 3 Injured in Explosion at Virginia Strip Mall


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.

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.

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.

Details on those seriously injured were not immediately available. Two other university students were treated at the scene and released.

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 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.”

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.





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