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Police treat massive RV explosion in Nashville as 'intentional act,’ 911 outages reported

Explosion of RV in downtown area preceded by recorded warning to evacuate. Possible human remains found near blast.

Updated: December 26, 2020 - 1:59pm

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A recreational vehicle unleashed a massive explosion in downtown Nashville on Christmas morning after blaring a recorded warning to evacuate, and authorities were investigating the incident as an “intentional act.” 

About 20 buildings were damaged, three people were injured and phone service and 911 emergency calls were disrupted when AT&T facilities were damaged.

Nashville Police Chief John Drake said investigators had found tissue near the explosion that "could be" human remains but had not confirmed any fatalities as of Friday afternoon.

Drake said police were responding to a report of shots fired when they encountered a recreational vehicle blaring a recording that said a potential bomb was to detonate in 15 minutes, prompting a fast evacuation.

“Shortly after that, the RV exploded,” Drake said.

Hours after the blast, AT&T reported that some phone services and 911 emergency calling were suffering outages in Tennessee and in some neighboring states.

"Service for some customers in Nashville and the surrounding areas may be affected by damage to our facilities from the explosion this morning. We are in contact with law enforcement and working as quickly and safely as possible to restore service," Jim Greer, an AT&T representative, told the Tennessean newspaper.

Police tweeted details from the devastated scene near downtown clubs and restaurants. 

"An explosion linked to a vehicle occurred at 6:30 this morning outside 166 2nd Ave N downtown. Investigation active by MNPD & federal partners," the Nashville police tweeted.

The police said the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were assisting the investigation, which closed down more than a city bloc.

"This appears to have been an intentional act. Law enforcement is closing downtown streets as investigation continues," the police tweeted.

Several news reports indicated the vehicle was an RV and that three people were hospitalized with injuries.

"It looks like a bomb went off," Mayor John Cooper said as he toured damage, according to a report by the Tennessean.