A timeline of the Nashville RV explosion on Christmas morning – CNN
The explosion that rattled a historic Nashville street in the predawn hours of Christmas Day came after an RV repeatedly warned of an imminent explosion.
A boxy white RV arrived at 2nd Avenue North in downtown Nashville at 1:22 a.m. CT on Friday, police said.
Several hours later, Betsy Williams said she was woken up by what sounded like rapid gunfire.
“It sounded like an automatic weapon,” she said, saying it was “disconcerting.”
About 5-10 minutes later, she heard the sound again, so she called 911. Minutes later, she heard the gunfire a third time, so she called 911 again.
Buck McCoy said he, too, was woken up by what he thought were gunshots. He got up and looked out the window, he said, but went back to bed when he didn’t see anything.
Police said they were called to the location after a report of shots fired around 5:30 a.m.
Police responding to the scene found a white RV parked in front of an AT&T transmission building at 166 2nd Avenue North, a historic street in downtown Nashville.
The RV was repeatedly broadcasting a message warning of an explosion set to occur in 15 minutes, police said.
“Evacuate now,” the computerized, female voice coming from the vehicle said, according to Williams.
“This vehicle will explode in 15 minutes,” the voice said, according to Williams. After repeating that message for a minute, the voice then said the vehicle will explode in 14 minutes. The countdown was on.
“When the time started, that’s when we went, ‘oh sh*t,'” she said. “We need to get out of here.”
Williams, still in her pajamas, and her family grabbed their cat and made their way to their car to leave the immediate area. She said she saw police cordon off 2nd Avenue to prevent anyone from going down it.
David Malloy was out walking his dog, a black German shepherd named DJ, when he noticed police cars on every corner.
Then he heard a voice that he thought was coming from a police car telling people to “evacuate” and “please stand back.”
As the countdown grew closer to its end, the message emanating from the RV changed, according to surveillance video taken from a building across the street.
“If you can hear this message, evacuate now,” the voice said at about 6:30 a.m. “If you can hear this message, evacuate now.”
Then a bang and a blinding flash.
Malloy, with his dog, said he asked an officer whether they were supposed to evacuate when he saw the explosion.
“It was just this huge fireball explosion,” he said. “I didn’t know what to make of it.”
Williams and her family saw the explosive fireball as they were driving down 2nd Avenue, she said.
“Everything just, I mean, everything shook. It was quite the blast,” she said.
When Buck McCoy looked outside, he saw trees down everywhere and broken glass littering the street.
“Everything on the street was fire,” he said. “There were three cars that were fully engulfed.”