UPDATE 4:45 a.m.: All guests have been allowed to return to their rooms. The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.
Capt. Ken Walburn of the Nashville Fire Department said the explosion occurred at around 8:15 p.m. in the convention center portion of the hotel away from guest rooms.
He said it appeared that a gas leak was ignited inside a mechanical room on the first floor, causing significant damage to an escalator, walls and ceiling. He said the blast was so strong it damaged ceiling tiles on the third floor of the convention center.
“It was amazing that no one was hurt,” Walburn said.
(Nashville, TN) Nashville Metro Police and fire crews are still at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville.
There was an explosion around 8:20 Tuesday night in the convention area of the hotel where the National Sheriff’s Associations Annual Conference & Exhibition is being held.
Shelby County Sheriff Oldham is not at the conference a department spokesperson told News Channel 3.
Significant damage is reported in the convention area.
The explosion reportedly happened behind an elevator.
WSMV-TV reports there is a natural gas smell in the building.
WSMV interviewed Davidson County Sheriff Darron Hall who was there when the explosion happened, “The concussion coming from the explosion was something that I’ve never felt before. It was a pretty alarming thing to happen in the location where we were in, and then debris starts falling, the ceiling tiles, where we were,” Hall said. “Clearly, from the debris that was falling, from that you didn’t know where or what caused it. And you could imagine the alarm when you’ve got federal government officials from D.C. here.”
No injuries are reported but 5,000 people have been evacuated.