NASHVILLE — A BYU graduate and her family are counting their blessings this Christmas after escaping just minutes before an explosion rocked downtown Nashville Friday.
Noelle Rasmussen said she and her husband, Jeff, were in bed around 5:50 a.m. when they heard loud banging on their condo door. While still in their pajamas, the Rasmussen's were told by police to evacuate the building immediately.
With their 4-year-old and 1-year-old children in tow, the Rasmussen's quickly left the building.
As the family drove away, Noelle looked back and saw the explosion that was felt throughout the area. The Rasmussen's building was across the street from where the RV exploded, although their unit was on the opposite side of the blast.
"I saw it explode," Noelle told CBS. "I saw a huge explosion, a big orange fireball up in the air about twice as tall as our building, and I just said to my husband, 'Oh my gosh, I think our building has exploded!"
Noelle, who graduated from BYU in the mid-2000s, said they originally had asked police if they could stay in the building, with her husband believing it might be a random person making an idle threat.
"As I saw it explode I was so glad we left," said Rasmussen. "I'm so glad we have our kids, and above anything else, I am so glad for those officers who walked into a building that they knew was a dangerous spot to be and woke us up and got us out."
"I'm so grateful."
Following the explosion, the Rasmussens attempted to see how badly their building had been damaged. Noelle said the windows were blown out and it appeared that water was pouring out of the building, leading Rasmussen to believe the sprinkler system had gone off.
"Everything was on fire, all the cars were burning." Rasmussen recalled moments after the incident. "A huge chunk of the top of our front side of our building collapsed as I was looking at it."
Noelle said they don't know when they'll be allowed back into the building, thinking it may take several weeks if the structure is condemned.
"We may not have much of a home to come back to, but we have all that really matters - our lives." Rasmussen wrote on Facebook.
A family friend set up a GoFundMe to help the Rasmussens buy essentials that they lost in the explosion.