Before we go any further, let me ask you a couple of questions.
1. You said the instrument panel went dead. The Speedometer, Tachometer, Odometer does not operate.
Now, what about all other instrument panel operations? When you first turn the key on right before starting the engine, do you see any other gauges (fuel, temperature, oil) and/or other lights (brake, airbag, abs, etc) light up? Also, when you turn on the headlamps, is the panel illuminated?
2. Are there any other system affected (example: dome light, cigarette lighter, etc)
Now, to start answering your questions:
While it is not common it is not unheard of, power surge sometimes do occur. You may have inadvertently left a few circuits stayed on the last time you turn off the vehicle (example: you may have left the AC/heater, wipers, something was probably attached to the cigarette lighter), so when you turn the key today, the least powerful fuse "sacrificed" itself in order to protect all the electronics and electrical connections. So I want you to check is a few fuses under the dash and under the hood. No need to pay a technician to do this. Just open the instrument panel junction box (fuse panel) under the driver side dash to look for gauge, panel, and ignition fuses. The diagram should be on the inside of the cover, and go under the hood junction box 2 (fuse panel), left side of engine compartment and look for dome fuse. One or may two of the fuses explained has/have burned out. Hope this helps you solve your problem and if you require further service I'll be happy to do so.