Midwest FurFest hotel evacuated after 'intentional' chlorine release; 19 hospitalized
A broken plain glass jar containing a white powder was found in the ninth floor stairwell after reports from room 963 of a strong chlorine smell that forced the occupants onto the balcony.
A standard "box alarm" at 1:03 AM was quickly elevated to a hazardous materials and third-alarm emergency response. The adjoining convention center was used to house attendees until the area was made safe, with the all-clear sounded at 4:21 AM.
A page set up to report hospitalized furs reported several had been discharged, including Hayzel Panda (who said those exposed had been "showered down"). @CoolCalmCam reported "coughing up blood" and said "I can't breathe or taste anything but chlorine or agony"; @mixnmatch7 said their "lungs are burning"; jincow "wasn't able to breathe".
Evacuated fans in good spirits [further coverage by Axio Wolf]
Rosemont Police have suggested that the incident was no accident:
According to investigators, the manner by which the substance was released suggests an intentional act. [...] This incident is being treated as a criminal matter and is under investigation.
Midwest FurFest is no stranger to fire alarms, with last year's convention being disturbed in the early hours of Monday morning. As in prior years, fursuiters were pressed into use as personal space heaters for fans turfed out from the Saturday night dance into the freezing winter air; the convention center (used by the Skokie Valley Kennel Club dog show) was opened later.