Nueces County Sheriff Jim Kaelin said he and his wife Sharon are okay after a gas explosion Tuesday night at the hotel where he was attending a National Sheriff's Conference in Nashville, TN.
"It was a gas explosion in one of the maintenance rooms," Kaelin said.
The explosion at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center caused the evacuation of more than 5,000 guests.
The sheriff and his wife were at the Grand Ole Opry when the explosion occurred. It wasn't until they were on their way back to the hotel that Kaelin found out about it. He posted this on his Facebook page:
"There has been an explosion at the hotel we are staying in. Everyone has been evacuated and we are outside waiting on information."
Three hours later, the sheriff posted:
"Our vehicle is in their parking lot and we can't get to our room to retrieve our clothing. Car keys are in the room also. This is turning into a nightmare. We are stuck here till daylight."
Then just after 3:30 a.m., the sheriff posted this:
"The announcement was just made. We can board the buses to return to the hotel."
Wednesday on the phone, the sheriff said first responders did an excellent job.
"The other good thing is certainly it had all the ingredients to be a mass casualty event. The fact that people were not in that vicinity at that particular time was, was the blessing," Kaelin said.
Investigators say the explosion was caused by a gas leak that ignited in a mechanical room in the convention part of the hotel. The sheriff and his wife Sharon are driving back from Nashville tonight, and will return to work in a couple of days.
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