Explosion in Virginia sparks fire, leaves 2 with life-threatening injuries

JMU student saw ' big mushroom cloud' after Harrisonburg blast

Around 8:30 a.m., the building caught fire, sending large plumes of smoke into the air.

Parks told CNN that officials are working to contain a three-alarm fire that spread to at least two other commercial buildings.

Harrisonburg is about 130 miles southwest of Washington, D.C., and the explosion occurred in a shopping center, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Harrisonburg Fire Chief Matt Tobia said that an investigation could take days to determine the cause.

The blast Saturday ripped through a shopping center in downtown Harrisonburg where businesses included a family owned halal market, a musical instrument store and recording studio and a nail salon and barber shop.

The victim who sustained only minor injuries has been confirmed as a student at James Madison University, according to a statement by the school.

Firefighters battle flames at a shopping center early Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020 in Harrisonburg, Va. Officials say an explosion and subsequent fire at the shopping center has injured a few people.

JMU student saw ' big mushroom cloud' after Harrisonburg blast
JMU student saw ' big mushroom cloud' after Harrisonburg blast

Tobia said when crews arrived, the injured were outside of the structure.

Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted that he has deployed state emergency personnel, and called the incident a "gas explosion".

One of the injured JMU students was hospitalized but was expected to be quickly released, the university said.

Harrisonburg, a city of 50,000, boasts breathtaking mountain views and a lively arts scene and is a hub for outdoor recreation. Viewers told local television stations that they felt the explosion several miles away.

Three students suffered minor injuries, including two who were were treated at the scene, and one who was taken to a hospital after the explosion.

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