Update 9:20 am, from the Tennessean
Gaylord Entertainment estimates up to $750,000 in damages from an explosion last night at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center that forced the evacuation of about 5,000 guests.
"It didn't impact any of the meeting space, there should be minimal to no impact disruption on future meetings,'' Gaylord spokesman Brian Abrahamson said.
Guests were allowed to go back into the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center around 3 a.m. Officials believe the explosion originated in a mechanical room and was caused by a gas leak.
"It was somewhat confusing when it first happened,'' said Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe, who was among several hundred sheriffs staying at the convention center for the 2012 National Sheriffs Association Annual Conference.
He was coming into the hotel from the parking lot when the explosion occurred around 8:15 p.m.
"The strange thing is that there were so many law enforcement personnel here used to dealing with crisis situations that ... I think the rest of guests felt comfortable,'' Ashe said. "Officers tried to help families get as comfortable as they could.
"For people with small children it was pretty hard. As inconvenient as it was, you can't jeopardize any human life.''
Presently, the affected areas of the Delta Atrium at the hotel are closed off. Gaylord carries business interruption damage and property insurance associated with the explosion damage.
"First and foremost, what is important is that no one was hurt as a result of this incident," said Colin V. Reed, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gaylord Entertainment in a statement.
According to Nashville tv station WSMV, displaced guests from the Opryland Hotel were being taken from a nearby hotel back to their rooms around 3:45 a.m. CST. following an explosion.
The explosion has been traced to a crack in a heat exchange.
None of the 5,000 guests were injured. Around 500 of the guests were there for a law enforcement convention.
According to WSMV, the hotel is waiving all fees for Tuesday night.
by Nicole Young, The Tennessean
About 5,000 guests at Opryland Hotel have been evacuated after an explosion on the first floor in the Delta area of the resort, said Nashville Fire Department spokesman Ricky Taylor.
As of 10:25 p.m., guests were still not allowed inside the complex. The hotel was reportedly sold out for the evening, Taylor said.
"This explosion was strong enough that it destroyed one of the escalators and blew upward through the first floor into the second floor," Taylor said. "An area the size of a football field was affected. This is all internal. Nothing is visible from the outside of the building."
Taylor said officials were still trying to figure out what caused the blast, which happened near a mechanical room.
"It could have been a malfunction that triggered that blast," he said. "We're still waiting to hear from our investigators on that."
There were no life threatening injuries associated with the explosion. Taylor said one woman had to be transported to a local hospital after she twisted her ankle.
Officials with Metro Police, Nashville Fire, the FBI, Metro Police and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives responded to the scene.
There is no timeline on when guests could be allowed back inside the hotel. Taylor said structural engineers were assessing the damages and would make that decision.