Several thousand people, some dressed as animal characters, were evacuated from a Hyatt hotel in suburban Rosemont when an “intentional” chlorine gas incident at the hotel, which was hosting the Midwest FurFest convention, sent 19 people to hospitals early Sunday.
The incident happened around 12:40 a.m. at the Hyatt, at 9300 West Bryn Mawr Avenue in Rosemont, according to a statement from the Rosemont Public Safety Department. First responders were called to investigate a noxious odor that was spreading across the ninth floor of the hotel, where a high level of chlorine gas was discovered in the air, the statement said.
Nineteen people were transported to nearby hospitals after complaining of nausea, dizziness and other medical problems, according to the statement. All people inside the building were temporarily evacuated and sheltered at nearby facilities, including the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.
Disrupted was an annual weekendlong convention called Midwest FurFest, which celebrates art, literature and performance based around anthropomorphic animals, draws thousands of people every year, according to the Midwest FurFest website.
Hazardous materials technicians found the source of the chlorine gas, what appeared to be powdered chlorine, in a stairwell at the ninth floor, according to a statement from police.
Technicians decontaminated the area and after conducting several tests deemed the area safe within about two hours. People were allowed back into the building about 4:20 a.m., according to a statement from FurFest. Some conventiongoers, some of whom were dressed up as animal characters, stood outside of the building. Hundreds more escaped the chilly weather at other buildings.
“At 1:10 AM the entire hotel was evacuated, first across Bryn Mawr Ave. in front of the Hyatt as per Rosemont Fire Department’s standard procedures, then when it became apparent that the wait would take longer, the Stephens Convention Center was opened to provide warmth and shelter to our guests,” according to the FurFest statement.
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