Investigation continues into Rosemont hotel gas leak during furry convention

  • Guests at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont were evacuated early Sunday morning after an chlorine gas leak, which authorities believe was caused intentionally and are treating as a criminal matter.

    Guests at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont were evacuated early Sunday morning after an chlorine gas leak, which authorities believe was caused intentionally and are treating as a criminal matter. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 12/8/2014 6:14 PM

Police continue to investigate how chlorine was leaked inside a Rosemont hotel this weekend, leading to an evacuation of hundreds of guests and sending 19 people to hospitals.

Authorities believe the leak was an intentional act, but so far they haven't identified who they believe responsible.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Cmdr. Gregory Nazuka of the Rosemont Public Safety Department said Monday that police continue to investigate the leak, which was reported at 12:43 a.m. Sunday at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare, 9300 Bryn Mawr Ave. He declined further comment.

Some of the 19 people hospitalized after complaining of nausea, dizziness or other medical problems caused by the leak were treated and released Sunday, according to a statement from organizers of Midwest FurFest, which was hosting a convention at the hotel over the weekend. The condition of the others was not known and Rosemont officials declined to comment.

Hotel guests, some dressed in furry animal costumes as part of the convention, waited outside the hotel during the evacuation, until the neighboring Donald E. Stephens Convention Center was opened to provide warmth and shelter, officials said. Guests were able to return to the hotel about 4:30 a.m. once the area had been decontaminated and ventilated.

Fest organizers said a broken container with a chlorine-containing chemical was discovered in the hotel. Authorities said the leak was found in a ninth-floor stairwell.

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On Monday afternoon, the FurFest Twitter account included a message asking those with information about "anyone connected to the cause of Sunday morning's evacuation" to contact the convention's security team.

The convention, attended by an estimated 4,600 people from 15 countries, was able to return to "almost" normal operations by Sunday morning, said Toby Murono, the fest's chairman.

The annual event is a celebration of "furry fandom, that is, art, literature, and performance based around anthropomorphic animals," according to its website.

"The furry community has been exceptionally supportive of our convention in the wake of this criminal act and our resilient staff and remarkably understanding and sympathetic attendees helped us finish the weekend on many positive notes," Murono said in an email.

Officials at Hyatt Regency O'Hare didn't respond to requests for comment.

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