People in animal costumes forced to evacuate Chicago hotel

People dressed in assorted animal costumes were sent into the cold Chicago night early Sunday when a chlorine leak forced them and others to evacuate a large hotel that was hosting an annual convention called Midwest FurFest.

Guests at the 1,100-room Hyatt Regency Hotel in Rosemont, Illinois, near O’Hare International Airport, were evacuated after someone intentionally released a chlorine substance, sending 19 people to the hospital with dizziness, nausea and other symptoms, the Rosemont Public Safety Department said in a statement.

Television news video showed people dressed as bears, raccoons, tigers and other animals milling around outside the hotel after the evacuation. The Midwest FurFest honors and promotes animal characters seen in comics, television and films.

Firefighters responded to a report of noxious odors on the 9th floor of the 12-story Hyatt at 12:40 a.m., the public safety department statement said.

Technicians found the source of the odor to be chlorine in a 9th floor stairwell that was released in what appeared to be an intentional manner, the statement said. The incident remains under investigation.

Guests were evacuated to the nearby convention center as technicians decontaminated and ventilated the area and conducted tests. The hotel was later determined safe and people were allowed back in at about 4:30 a.m. local time.

The Midwest FurFest convention resumed as scheduled on Sunday, according to a Midwest FurFest social media posting.

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