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A building explosion occurred at a mall in downtown Harrisonberg, Virginia on October 1

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Investigators on Sunday were searching for evidence behind a thunderstorm that leveled a strip of mall, injured five people and shook residents miles away on a calm morning in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

The blast on Saturday tore a mall in downtown Harrisonberg, where businesses included a family halal market, a musical instrument store and a recording studio, and a nail salon and barber shop.

The nearby James Madison University said in a Facebook post that among the injured were three students from the school’s ROTC military program who took part in a 10-mile race. The blast occurred about 30 meters from the start and finish of the race, the school said.

Damon Boyd, who was working on a construction site nearby when the blast erupted, told the Daily-News Record that he and his crew rushed to the scene. A wounded man on the ground started screaming that he was dying, “Boyd said.” Something seems to have hit him in the face. “

Although Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted that government emergency personnel had been stationed in the area following what he called a gas explosion, Harrisonburg Fire Chief Matt Tobia said the cause was under investigation.

City spokesman Michael Parks, who said the investigation would likely take several days, said there were no indications of a rough game.

Ongoing investigation: An investigation following an explosion injured several people at a mall in Virginia

One of the injured JMU students has been hospitalized but is expected to be released quickly, the university said. Two other students were treated at the scene and released, the school said.

The university said the other two injured were not linked to the JMU. City officials said the other two were taken to the University of Virginia Medical Center in serious condition and are “now stable.”

Pat Durenbos, who lives about half a mile away, said her house “literally shook” and feared a plane had crashed or a tanker had exploded on Interstate 81.

I grew up on a farm and thought, “That sounds like gasoline or oil.” “There couldn’t be anything so huge that would shake my house,” she told the Daily News-Record.

JMU sophomore Matthew Jenkins recalled the concussion early Saturday morning.

“I just heard a loud bang and they threw me in my wall,” Jenkins told WTVR. “My head hit the wall and I thought something had crashed into the building, so I looked outside and … I saw a big mushroom cloud.”

The mall in the strip club was a “complete loss,” Parks said, and damage was reported to other structures.

Harrisonburg, a city of 50,000 people, boasts breathtaking mountain views and a lively art scene, and is an outdoor recreation center. In addition to the JMU, it is home to the Eastern Mennonite University,

Contribution: Associated Press

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