Note: This story was updated at 9:25 a.m. Jan. 19.
The Oak Ridge Police Department is investigating a report of an explosion that left a small crater in the playground and rattled nearby windows at Milt Dickens Park in east Oak Ridge late Monday afternoon. Police recovered physical evidence that indicated an explosion might have occurred, the City of Oak Ridge said in a statement Wednesday.
Police are also investigating a report of an explosion near Blankenship Field on Saturday night. Officers found a concrete picnic table in the area of Blankenship Field that appeared to be damaged as the result of an “over-pressure or impact-related event,” but no physical evidence at the scene definitively indicated that an explosion had occurred or that the initial reporting was the result of an explosive device, the city said.
The Blankenship Field explosion was reported at 9:12 p.m. Saturday, January 13. A witness reported seeing a black vehicle leaving the area at a high rate of speed just after the incident occurred, the City of Oak Ridge said.
The Milt Dickens Park explosion was reported at 4:55 p.m. Monday, January 15. Two Caucasian males were seen running into the woods after the explosion, and they were then picked up by a black vehicle, the city said.
The explosion at Milt Dickens Park rattled windows at Castlewood Condominiums on Arcadia Lane next to the park, at the intersection of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Athens Road, and people reported hearing the blast in other nearby areas. On Tuesday, one resident at Castlewood said she smelled and saw smoke.
It’s not clear what type of explosive was involved or whether it might have been fireworks. Castlewood residents said they thought the explosion sounded larger than the blast that would be created by fireworks. The crater in mulch at the playground at Milt Dickens Park measured about 4.5 feet across and one foot deep on Tuesday morning, but the hole had been enlarged by officers taking dirt samples during the investigation.
An earlier statement from the city said there had been several reports of an explosion in the area of the park late Monday afternoon. Police officers smelled smoke when they arrived, and they found the small crater in the playground at the park. It was believed to be caused by an explosion, and physical evidence was recovered, the ORPD said.
An explosives detection dog was brought to the scene, and more officers were called to investigate, the city said. No explosives were found in the park, and the park was deemed safe.
The city said its investigation remains open and active. Anyone with any information regarding these incidents should contact the Oak Ridge Police Department at (865) 425-3503 during business hours and (865) 425-4399 after business hours.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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