After a recreational vehicle exploded in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning in what authorities said was an “intentional act,” three people were taken to hospitals to be treated for injuries, dozens of businesses were damaged, communications systems were disrupted, and officials implemented a curfew in the area.
Police were responding to a report of shots fired downtown at about 6 a.m. when they found an RV blaring a recorded warning that a bomb was going to detonate in 15 minutes, Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said.
There were no confirmed fatalities, but Drake said during a Friday evening news conference that police had found tissue they believe could be human remains near where the explosion took place that they would examine. Drake said it was not clear if anyone was inside the RV when it exploded. The people hospitalized were in stable condition Friday evening, city officials said.
The RV exploded at around 6:30 a.m. near 166 Second Ave. North, police said, outside the Melting Pot fondue restaurant in an area that’s popular among tourists with its stretch of bars and restaurants.
After police arrived, they quickly began to evacuate the area, going door to door to wake residents up, actions a police spokesman said helped save lives.
A bomb squad was on the way to the scene, according to The New York Times, but the RV had exploded before it arrived.
Officials said they do not yet know a motive or target and had not received threats before the blast. The Federal Bureau of Investigations field office in Memphis is leading the investigation, and working with state and local law enforcement and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives.
Police released a photo of the RV Friday afternoon and said it arrived on Second Avenue North at 1:22 a.m.
BREAKING: This is the RV that exploded on 2nd Ave N this morning. It arrived on 2nd Ave at 1:22 a.m. Have you seen this vehicle in our area or do you have information about it? Please contact us via Crime Stoppers at 615-742-7463 or online via https://t.co/dVGS7o0m4v. @ATFHQ pic.twitter.com/JNx9sDinAH— Metro Nashville PD (@MNPDNashville) December 25, 2020
The RV was parked near an AT&T transmission building that’s near a company office building, and the blast interrupted AT&T Internet and phone service. Multiple police agencies reported their 911 systems were down because of the outage, and the Federal Aviation Administration temporarily stopped flights out of Nashville International Airport because of telecommunications issues.
On Friday afternoon, Nashville Mayor John Cooper said the city was imposing a curfew in the area of the explosion that would last through Sunday.
Windows and doors of nearby buildings were blown out as a result of the explosion, and at least 41 businesses were materially damaged, Cooper said.
President Trump has been briefed on the explosion, a White House spokesman said. Acting Attorney General Jeff Rosen was also briefed and directed all Justice Department resources be made available to help with the investigation, the department said. President-elect Joe Biden was also briefed, according to The Washington Post.
Material from the Globe wire services was used in this report.