The Metro Nashville Police Department said via Twitter that the explosion occurred at 6:30 a.m. Friday and that state and federal authorities were on the scene, as were emergency crews including the fire department.
Black smoke and flames were seen early 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.
The Metro Nashville Office of Emergency Management told Nashville television station WKRN that a parked recreational vehicle exploded and damaged several buildings. No injuries were immediately reported. The station also quoted officials as saying the explosion did not seem suspicious. The fire department sent out a tweet asking residents and others to avoid the area.
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.