ROSEMONT, Ill. (TheBlaze/AP) — A gathering of "furries" — people who like to dress up like cartoon animals — was interrupted by a gas leak that authorities say might have been caused on purpose.
A chlorine gas leak at a suburban Chicago hotel hosting an annual Midwest furry convention sent 19 people to hospitals because of nausea and dizziness and forced the evacuation of thousands of guests, including many in cartoonish animal costumes.
Investigators believe the early Sunday leak at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare in Rosemont was caused intentionally and are treating it as a criminal matter.
The Rosemont Public Safety Department says authorities responded to the hotel at around 12:45 a.m. It was evacuated because of high levels of chlorine gas in the air. The source appeared to be powdered chlorine found in a 9th-floor stairwell. People were later were allowed to return.
The hotel is hosting the 2014 Midwest FurFest convention, described on the convention's website as a "celebrat[ion of] furry fandom, that is, art, literature, and performance based around anthropomorphic animals."