Five injured in blast, fire at strip mall

A firefighter walks through the burning rubble of a shopping center after an explosion in Harrisonburg on Saturday Oct. 17 2020. Three people were transported for injuries from the blast. The cause of the explosion has not been released yet

A firefighter walks through the burning rubble of a shopping center after an explosion in Harrisonburg on Saturday Oct. 17 2020. Three people were transported for injuries from the blast. The cause of the explosion has not been released yet

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A firefighter walks through the burning rubble of a shopping center after an explosion in Harrisonburg, Va., Saturday, Oct. 17, 2020.

The university said the other two injured people were not affiliated with JMU.

The university said in a Facebook post that three students from the school's Army ROTC program who had been participating in a 10-mile race were among those injured.

Harrisonburg police received the first reports at 8:30 a.m., a department spokesperson told Fox News.

Employees at a nearby vape shop and music store were not injured, the businesses said.

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Two people with serious injuries were airlifted to a hospital and one was treated locally, WHSV-TV reported.

Tobia said when crews arrived, the injured were outside of the structure. Firefighters continue to work at the scene, but the fire has reportedly been "contained".

Footage from the scene, as seen in tweets, showed a thick column of smoke that could be witnessed from the surrounding area.

While Gov. Ralph Northam identified the source of the incident as a gas explosion, local officials could not confirm the cause, saying more investigation was needed.

Social media reactions indicated that the initial explosion was felt possibly miles away.

Peter Aitken is a NY born-and-raised reporter with a focus on national and global news.

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