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Officials: Natural gas leak caused explosion at Harrisonburg shopping center

Published: Oct. 17, 2020 at 9:08 AM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) (UPDATE 10/19 5:09 p.m.) — The Harrisonburg Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office has determined that Saturday morning’s explosion and subsequent fire at Miller Circle was the result of a natural gas leak inside the building.

According to a tweet from the City of Harrisonburg, the exact origin of the leak and ignition source are still under investigation.

(UPDATE 10/19) — Officials will not be releasing further information or details regarding the exact cause of Saturday’s explosion along South Main Street in Harrisonburg that damaged multiple commercial buildings and injured at least five individuals until a secondary investigation is complete.

At this time, city officials say they have no reason to believe the cause of the explosion was deliberate or suspicious.

Surrounding businesses who were impacted by the explosion have taken to social media to give updates regarding their staff and buildings. As of Monday, GoFundMe pages have been created to help the owners and employees of Funky’s, Element Vapors, Naza Salon and Barber Shop, Blue Sprocket and Hometown Music and Halal Market cover building damages from the explosion and subsequent fire.

As of Sunday afternoon, officials say the two individuals who were flown to UVA with serious injuries are in stable condition.

Stay with WHSV as we cover local businesses and individuals impacted, as well as the latest updates from city officials.

(UPDATE 2:41 p.m.) — Officials say that the two individuals who were flown to UVA are in stable condition.

Officials say they have no reason to believe there are other injuries at this time. They are currently conducting a secondary search of the area.

Crews are currently in the process of reopening South Main Street, but will continue to be onsite for the remainder of the day and the next few days.

It will likely be a few days to determine the exact cause of the explosion and fire, according to officials.

Columbia Gas was on scene to shut down nearby gas lines in the area.

Posted by WHSV - TV 3 on Saturday, October 17, 2020

(UPDATE 12:59 p.m.) — Officials say they have no reason to believe anyone else is inside the building where the explosion occurred.

(UPDATE 12:15 p.m.) — James Madison University tweeted that three students were involved in the incident.

Of the three individuals recently reported injured, one individual, who was transported to RMH, is being treated for cuts to the arm from flying glass, according to officials.

Two other JMU students were treated on the scene and released. All three students were participating in a community event.

Officials have not given an update on the two individuals flown to UVA.

Officials say that the fire from the explosion has been contained. Parts of South Main Street will stay closed for several hours.

Stay with WHSV for updates.

(UPDATE 11:53 a.m.) — Two individuals were flown from the scene to UVA after this morning’s explosion. One is being treated at RMH.

Officials say the victims were outside of the building when crews arrived at the scene.

The fire from the explosion is contained, but still not out, according to officials. Cheif Tobia with the Harrisonburg Fire Department says crews will most likely be on the scene for days.

(UPDATE 11:06 a.m.) — Two stores in the shopping center report its employees are okay after the incident this morning.

Governor Ralph Northam tweeted that he has deployed state emergency personnel for additional support regarding the explosion.

Despite Northam’s tweet, officials can not confirm the incident was a gas explosion.

(UPDATE 9:33 a.m.) — City officials say the explosion happened in a commercial business area in Miller Circle in Harrisonburg.

As of 9:27 a.m., there are multiple crews and aid on the scene. Officials say at least three people have been transported from the scene, two in serious condition.

Firefighters are still handling the flames.

Officials say some nearby businesses have been impacted by the explosion, but there is no belief there are serious impacts or injuries from those businesses.

Officials say they haven’t been able to assess damage outside of the area for residents, but homeowners are encouraged to report property damage from the incident to the Harrisonburg Fire Department.

Stay with WHSV for updates.

BREAKING: 3 injured after explosion along South Main Street in Harrisonburg. Kyle Rogers reports on the latest from city officials:

Posted by WHSV - TV 3 on Saturday, October 17, 2020

(ORIGINAL STORY 9:08 a.m.) — An explosion was reported on South Main Street near Wendy’s and El Charro.

Multiple WHSV viewers reported hearing or feeling the explosion for miles.

Reaction to this morning's explosion from WHSV viewers on our Facebook page.
Reaction to this morning's explosion from WHSV viewers on our Facebook page.(WHSV)
Reaction to this morning's explosion from WHSV viewers on our Facebook page.
Reaction to this morning's explosion from WHSV viewers on our Facebook page.(WHSV)
Reaction to this morning's explosion from WHSV viewers on our Facebook page.
Reaction to this morning's explosion from WHSV viewers on our Facebook page.(WHSV)

There is still no word on what caused the explosion or if there were any casualties.

Stay with WHSV for updates.

BREAKING: Explosion in Harrisonburg. Kyle Rogers and the WHSV News team are on the scene along South Main Street.

Posted by WHSV - TV 3 on Saturday, October 17, 2020

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