A fire engulfed a Trump rally in Tennessee on Saturday night, leaving dozens of people injured and two police officers injured, authorities said.
Tennessee State Police said in a statement that an officer and a state trooper suffered smoke inhalation and minor injuries after being struck by debris.
“Fire engulfed the rally venue and several people were injured,” Tennessee State Highway Patrol Capt. Brian Jones said in the statement.
The Tennessee State Capitol was closed and the Tennessee Highway Patrol had the fire under control by the time the fire was contained.
The incident happened as hundreds of Trump supporters, some carrying signs that said “Fire” and “Stand Up,” were expected to rally at the site of the rally in nearby Pikeville, a predominantly white area of the state, which has been at the center of a presidential campaign for decades.
Bill Haslam ordered a state of emergency for the state as a precaution.
Jones said that the state fire marshal’s office would provide additional resources to assist the Tennessee Fire Marshal’s Office.
A video posted on social media shows the crowd, some wearing masks and masks covering their faces, running from the burning building.
The crowd then appears to start walking toward a large white flagpole that has been damaged by the fire.
After the crowd reaches the pole, a white fireman can be seen pushing a stretcher from the building.
A person then runs out of the building, shouting “Get me the ambulance!” before the ambulance arrives.
Trump, who is the Republican nominee for president, had earlier urged supporters to remain at home after the fire occurred.
“I hope we can do better than this,” Trump said at a rally in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Earlier Saturday, Trump also condemned a tweet from a former staffer that suggested a conspiracy against him.
In the tweet, the former staffer, Joe Schmitz, said the President was planning to be assassinated.
The tweet was quickly deleted, but a copy of it was published by the Washington Post.
Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Schmitz’s tweet came after a series of tweets by Trump over the weekend, which were filled with inflammatory comments about race and violence in the United States.
I would like to personally apologize to @SenTedCruz for the tweet I wrote the other day, which included racist and inflammatory comments that I deeply regret.
We are moving forward as one united people.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 18, 2020 On Saturday, he tweeted: “This is why we need unity in America.”
The Twitter user in question, who went by the handle @POTUS_John, told The Associated Press that he was a former Republican National Committee staffer who worked for Trump in the 1980s and 1990s.
His account was suspended for three hours Saturday.
An employee at a local McDonalds franchise said that he heard the commotion and saw flames coming from a nearby building.
Pizza Hut employee Andrew Hahn, who was sitting near the restaurant, told AP that he didn’t see any flames but saw smoke billowing from a window.
He said he had not seen any smoke or flames but said the restaurant was mostly empty and people were leaving the restaurant.
At a news conference, Haslam called the fire “a major disaster” and said that a full investigation was underway.
As the crowd was leaving the building at around 11 p.m., he said: “I am not sure how we’re going to move forward from here.”
“We’re going through this together,” Haslam said.
Hours later, Trump tweeted a picture of the injured troopers with a caption that said: #SOTU, @SenRandPaul & @SenBob Corker were injured in the incident.
Our prayers are with all those injured.
We will be fully transparent and transparently reporting all our facts, and getting our people the answers they need.
— Don McPhee (@DonMcPhee) November 20, 2020