UPDATE: Remains found on site of Rockbridge County explosion and fire

Published: May. 10, 2019 at 9:54 AM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

At least one person is dead, and others are unaccounted for following an explosion and large fire at a gas station and market near Buena Vista.

Four other people were taken to the hospital after the South River Market went up in flames Friday morning.

Authorities have confirmed that investigators located the remains of at least one person late Friday afternoon.

What started with a huge explosion and fire, and a massive response by firefighters and other public safety officials is now a painstaking investigation.

Authorities are working to determine the cause and how many people were actually in the South River Market when it caught fire.

Russell Williams was on his farm across the river, when he heard and felt the explosion.

"Immediately it was just a big ball of fire," Williams told WDBJ7. "And the roof blew off the store, and went to the right of the store, and then the trusses blew up and went to the front of the store."

"As you can tell there was a canopy over gas pumps, they were sitting upright and you could see the fire behind them. Cinder blocks blown every which way," he said. "It's just hard to believe that anybody could have survived."

It was a very large fire, and departments responded from across the county. There are no hydrants in the area, so firefighters turned to the river.

Nathan Ramsey is Chief of Rockbridge County Fire & EMS.

"At this point there is no other water source other than the river," Ramsey told reporters, "so we had to set up a drafting operation... Once we put the water on it, and the fuel burned off we were able to get it under control."

As firefighters continued to hose down the hot spots, and search the rubble, Russell Williams said he and his wife were praying for their friends at the South River Market and their families.

As we noted earlier, four people were taken to the hospital. We are waiting for more information on their conditions.

Before we learned of at least one fatality, authorities told us that between three and five people were still unaccounted for.

A Virginia State Police spokesman said he is confident the department's investigators will determine the cause, but at this point they do not believe the cause was suspicious.



6:12 p.m.

Investigators told WDBJ7 that the remains of at least one person have been found in the rubble after an explosion Friday morning in Buena Vista.


Four people are being transported to Carillion Stone Wall Jackson and some are unaccounted for after an explosion at a Buena Vista gas station Friday morning.

A call came in reporting the fire at the South River Market at 9:22 a.m.

Mountain View Elementary School in Buena Vista has been evacuated for safety precautions due to the fire, no injuries were reported.

Rockbridge County has closed Old Buena Vista Road at the intersection of South River road due to the fire. Motorists are asked to take alternate routes.

The cause of the fire is under investigation at this time.

WDBJ7 is working to get more information at this time.