Opryland Hotel Explosion Forces Evacuation

WebProNews StaffLife

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The Opryland Hotel, which is now known as Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center, was the location of a gas explosion late Tuesday night, forcing nearly 5,000 guests, including 4,500 individuals attending the National Sheriff's Conference, to evacuate their rooms. According to Fox News, no injuries were reported at the scene. Guests were finally allowed to return to their beds early Wednesday morning.

Hotel officials explained to Nashville's News 2 that some sort of mechanical malfunction "compromised the gas line", which resulted in the explosion. Crews reportedly worked through the night to correct the problem. Although there was no fire, the building did experience some damage, forcing officials to shut off utilities until everything was safe and sound.

According to witnesses, the blast was so strong that several ceiling tiles on the third floor were damaged. "We turned the corner right near the Convention Center entrance [and] ceiling tiles were falling out [and there was] several large holes [and] debris all over the place," one guest explained.

Because of the number of law enforcement officials at the hotel for the conference, the FBI, along with the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, investigated the explosion for anything suspicious. "[The explosion] was initially part of the concern," Capt. Ken Walburn of the Nashville Fire Department said. "We wanted to make sure, given the location and the convention, that it wasn't an act of terrorism."

The amount of structural damage to the hotel has yet to be determined.

In May of 2010, the hotel found itself covered in several feet of floodwaters from the Cumberland River, forcing the property to undergo remediation. After several months of extensive clean-up work, the hotel reopened for business on November 15, 2010.

The Opryland Hotel opened its doors in 1977 as a place for Opryland USA and Grand Ole Opry visitors to the stay. Although the park was shuttered in 1997, the hotel and resort is still alive and well. Presently, it is the largest non-casino hotel in the continental U.S. outside of Las Vegas.