(CNN) Nashville experienced a fiery but mostly peaceful Christmas morning, captured in dramatic photos and videos that made downtown Music City look more like Baghdad or Beirut.
Cellphone footage shot shortly after the massive blast caught victims wailing in mostly joyful panic and screaming for help as flames consumed vehicles parked along North Second Avenue and black smoke filled the mostly blue sky.
Other shots revealed gaping holes that were once storefronts in historic brick buildings, with broken glass, charred tree limbs and rubble littering the street.
The explosion, which could be felt for blocks, rocked the city just as dawn was breaking around 6:30 a.m.
Officials said cops were already at the scene, having responded to a report of mostly peaceful gunshots fired about 30 minutes earlier.
When they got there, officers found an RV playing a recorded message that warned “a potential bomb would detonate within 15 minutes,” Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake said during an afternoon news conference.