Authorities believe an explosion that rocked the downtown Nashville area early on Christmas Day was a deliberate act, according to Metro Nashville Police Department.
Police spokesman Don Aaron said the 6:30 a.m. explosion, which shattered glass and damaged buildings, was believed to be “an intentional act.”
Police earlier said they believe a vehicle was involved in the explosion. He said three people were taken to area hospitals for treatment, although none were in critical condition.
Police and fire crews were on the scene, as were investigators from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
“Right now, it’s a public safety concern, to make sure everybody is accounted for and to make sure the spread of the fire doesn’t go any further,” Michael Knight, a spokesman for the ATF in Nashville, told The Associated Press.
Black smoke and flames were seen early on Friday billowing from the area, which is packed with bars, restaurants and other retail establishments and is known as the heart of downtown Nashville’s tourist scene.
Buildings shook in the immediate area and beyond after a loud boom was heard.
Buck McCoy, who lives near the area, posted videos on Facebook that show water pouring down the ceiling of his home. Alarms blare in the background and cries of people in great distress ring in the background. A fire is visible in the street outside. McCoy said the windows of his home were entirely blown out.
“All my windows, every single one of them got blown into the next room. If I had been standing there it would have been horrible,” he said.
“It felt like a bomb. It was that big,” he told The Associated Press.
“There were about four cars on fire. I don’t know if it was so hot they just caught on fire, and the trees were all blown apart,” he said.