Located in the scenic, bucolic, and placid Shenandoah Valley, the 55,000-resident city of Harrisonburg, Virginia was rocked by a massive explosion in its downtown corridor Saturday morning. The initial explosion occurred in a two-story commercial building in the city center, causing a blaze that quickly spread to a pair of other buildings.
As of noon on Saturday, at least three people were injured in the commercial building explosion and taken to a local hospital. Two of these injured individuals are said to have sustained serious wounds as a result of the severe blast.
Three different fire departments were dispatched to battle the expanding fire. The individual with less serious injuries has been identified as a student at James Madison University in Harrisonburg. The more severely injured blast victims have not been identified, pending notification of their families.
Located about 55 miles from Charlottesville, the Harrisonburg city center was experiencing an aggressive redevelopment in recent times. Emergency personnel reported that about 50 people were in the vicinity of the building when the explosion occurred. They were evacuated from the area, a number of blocks around the site of the commercial building blast were then cordoned off.
Residents in and around Harrisonburg reported hearing the blast from miles around the explosion. Residents of the community recounted feeling the explosion from as far away as two to three miles.
A large plume of smoke began to spread out across the city and into the surrounding Shenandoah Valley. As of Saturday afternoon, there was no warning issued to the surrounding community that the smoke plume contained harmful substances that could threaten people’s health and wellbeing. Nevertheless, it is thought that compounds in the smoke from the explosion are being monitored at this time.
An investigation into the cause of the mammoth explosion is now underway. Because it has only been ongoing for a matter of a couple of hours as the early afternoon the day of the blast, nothing has been publicly reported. With that said, prior to commencement of the cause investigation, there were early indicators noted that the blast likely was a gas explosion of some type. In making an announcement about the Harrisonburg building blast, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam did refer to the accident as a gas explosion.
If the Virginia blast was the cause of a gas explosion, this type of incident is an alarming commonplace event. This includes significant gas explosions that occur in commercial and residential districts in cities and towns across the United States.
Gas leaks that potentially can result in explosions are particularly abundant in older sections of a community, like the city center district in Harrisonburg. These areas tend to be outfitted with old copper gas lines that haven’t been replaced with plastic or aluminum alternatives.
There are older neighborhoods across the United States in which a few dozen small gas leaks can be detected in a more heavily populated city block. While these smaller leaks do not present an immediate risk of explosion, they can degrade quickly and become a major, potentially hazardous problem. This reality underscores the need for replacement of aged gas pipelines throughout the country.
Directly before and after the explosion, no one in the area of the building reported smelling or otherwise identifying any leaking gas. Inasmuch as not all witnesses have yet been interviewed, this early report is subject to modification.
If you’ve lost a loved one in an accident like the Virginia commercial building explosion, or if you’ve been injured in such an incident, a Doan Law Firm explosion accident lawyer is available any time to provide you a case evaluation. A nationwide law firm, we can schedule an initial consultation with you at any one of our 40 offices. In addition, we can schedule a virtual appointment with you online.
You can connect with our firm and an explosion accident lawyer by calling (800) 349-0000. Our explosion accident hotline is staffed around the clock, 365 days a year, including major holidays. There is no charge for an initial consultation with an explosion accident attorney from our firm.
The Doan Law Firm makes an attorney fee promise to you. We never charge an attorney fee unless we win for you.