‘I noticed a giant mushroom cloud’: Clues sought in Virginia buying heart explosion that rattled residents for miles

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Investigators on Sunday hunted for clues behind a thunderous explosion that leveled a strip mall, injured 5 individuals and rattled residents for miles on a peaceable morning in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.The blast Saturday ripped by a buying heart in downtown Harrisonburg the place companies included a family-owned halal market, a musical instrument retailer and recording studio and a nail salon and barber store.Nearby James Madison University stated in a Facebook publish that three college students from the varsity’s Army ROTC program who had been collaborating in a 10-mile race have been among the many injured. The explosion occurred about 30 yards from the begin and end line for the race, the varsity stated.Damon Boyd, who was working development close by when the blast erupted, instructed the Daily-News Record he and his crew rushed to the scene.  An injured man on the bottom  “started hollering that he’s dying,” Boyd said. “It looked like something hit him in the face.”I’ve been told by Police this looks like the result of an explosion in the small shopping center that included a barber shop, vape store and Hometown Music, as well as an international grocery and Blue Sprocket. pic.twitter.com/HD6JxjdcIB— Ian Munro – Daily News-Record (@iamIanMunro) October 17, 2020Although Gov. Ralph Northam tweeted that state emergency personnel had been deployed to the area after what he called a gas explosion, Harrisonburg Fire Chief Matt Tobia said the cause was under investigation.City spokesman Michael Parks, who said the probe will likely take several days, said there’s no indication of foul play.A firefighter walks through the burning rubble of a shopping center after an explosion in Harrisonburg, Va., on , Oct. 17, 2020.Investigation underway: Investigation underway after explosion injures several people at a Virginia shopping centerStory continuesOne of the injured JMU students was hospitalized but was expected to be quickly released, the university said. Two other students were treated at the scene and released, the school said.The university said the other two injured people were not affiliated with JMU. City officials said the two others had been flown to the University of Virginia’s medical center in serious condition and were “now stable.”Pat Doorenbos, who lives about half a mile away, stated her home “actually shook” and she feared a plane had crashed or a tanker blew up on Interstate 81. “I grew up on a farm and I believed to myself ‘That appears like fuel or oil.’ There could not be something that massive that might shake my home,” she told the Daily News-Record.JMU sophomore Matthew Jenkins recalled a jolt early Saturday morning.”I simply heard a loud bang and I used to be thrown into my wall,” Jenkins told WTVR. “My head hit the wall and I believed that one thing had crashed into the constructing, so I appeared outdoors and… I noticed a giant mushroom cloud.”The strip mall was a “whole loss,” Parks said, and damage was reported to other structures. Harrisonburg, a city of 50,000, boasts breathtaking mountain views and a lively arts scene and is a hub for outdoor recreation. In addition to JMU, it’s home to Eastern Mennonite University,Contributing: The Associated PressThis article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Explosion at Virginia shopping center: Authorities seek clues