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RV that sparked Lexington evacuations was rented by family staying at downtown hotel

Published: Jan. 1, 2021 at 10:16 AM CST
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - We’re learning new details about an RV parked in downtown Lexington that led to evacuations over a bomb scare.

It turned out to be a false alarm, but it caused a major disruption downtown on New Year’s Eve.

We’re told the RV was rented by a family from Ohio staying in one of the hotels downtown. It couldn’t fit in the parking garage so they parked it in a downtown parking lot.

That sparked suspicion on a busy night downtown, bringing out a police K-9 that alerted to it. A police robot was then brought to look for explosives.

Thankfully, nothing was found, but it still caused a major disruption. Restaurants, bars and hotels were all evacuated on what was a busy night downtown.

Heather Cardwell was spending the night at a downtown. She says they had just gotten ready to go out when their hotel was evacuated.

It’s not something she expected at all, but they were still able to salvage their plans and go somewhere else for dinner. Still, she realizes, for many business owners, what happened Thursday night was the last thing they wanted.

“I really feel sorry for the local restaurants that had it in their minds that it was going to be a better night for them to start out the new year,” Cardwell said. “I think that that was spoiled by the incident.”

“They couldn’t have written a script. It was quite an interesting night,” said Debbie Long, owner of Dudley’s on Short.

By the time they got the all-clear, many folks had gone home.

At Dudley’s on Short, workers came back to food on the table, candles still burning and an empty restaurant. Terrible timing, that owner Debbie Long says hurts, not just her, but her staff.

“It would’ve been nicer at like three o’clock yesterday afternoon, or today - where there’s no businesses open,” Long said. “But eight o’clock on New Year’s Eve. If you could’ve picked the probably worst time, that would be it. But we can’t pick those times.”

We reached out to the Lexington Police Department to learn more about what exactly caused that K-9 to alert to the RV. They released this statement:

We did not identify the cause for the alert. Canines will occasionally hit on a combination of odors or residual odor from previous cargo. The RV was a rental so there is no way to know what may have been in it before. That does not necessarily mean previous occupants had explosives. Could have been fireworks, fertilizer, or some other similar legal product.

In a statement, Mayor Linda Gorton thanked officers for being diligent in protecting the public.

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