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A building explosion occurred at a shopping center in the town of Harrisonburg, Va. On October 1

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Investigators on Sunday caught clues behind a powerful explosion that crashed into a strip mall, injuring five people and besieging residents for miles on a peaceful morning in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley.

The explosion on Saturday tore through a shopping center in the town of Harrisonburg where businesses included a family-owned halal market, a music instrument store and recording studio and a nail salon and barber shop.

Nearby James Madison University said in a Facebook post that three students from the school’s Army ROTC program who participated in a 10-mile race were among the injured. The explosion occurred about 30 yards from the start and end line for the race, the school said.

Damon Boyd, who was working in a nearby building when it exploded, told the Daily-News Record that he and his crew rushed to the scene. An injured man on the ground “began to urge that he was dying,” Boyd said. “It was as if something had hit him in the face.”

Although Governor Ralph Northam tweeted that state emergency personnel were deployed to the area after he called the gas explosion, Harrisonburg Fire Chief Matt Tobia said the cause was under investigation.

City spokesman Michael Parks, who said the investigation could take several days, said there was no indication of foul play.

The investigation continues: Investigations continue after the explosion injured several people at a shopping center in Virginia

One of the injured JMU students was hospitalized but is expected to be released soon, 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 other two were flown to the University of Virginia medical center in critical condition and are “stable now.”

Pat Doorenbos, who lives about half a mile away, said his house was “literally shaken” and he was afraid a plane would crash or a tanker would explode on Interstate 81.

“I grew up on a farm and I thought to myself ‘It’s like gas or oil.’ There is nothing that will shake my house so much, “he told the Daily News-Record.

JMU sophomore Matthew Jenkins recalls a shake-up on Saturday morning.

“I just heard a loud bang and threw me against my wall,” Jenkins told WTVR. “My head hit the wall and I thought something had fallen on the building, so I looked outside and … I saw a big cloud of mushrooms.”

The strip mall was a “total loss,” Parks said, and damage was reported to other structures.

Harrisonburg, a city of 50,000, boasts stunning mountain views and a vibrant art scene and a hub for recreational recreation. In addition to JMU, it is home to Eastern Mennonite University,

Contributing: The Associated Press

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