A housekeeper working in a hotel in Utah cleared the entire building this past weekend, when she accidentally discharged a can of bear spray. The woman was pushing her cart down a hall in the Marriott Hotel in Salt Lake City and didn’t notice that someone and dropped the can on the floor. When she rolled the cart over bear spray, it began discharging its contents, which is not unlike pepper spray, but much more powerful.
The smell from the spray was so strong, that all the guests had to be evacuated from the hotel. It took about a half-hour for the staff to ventilate the building enough to allow the patrons back inside. The hapless housekeeper was also taken to the hospital, as the pepper spray irritated her eyes to the point that she couldn’t open them.
A similar incident occurred a month ago at the Grand Tetons National Park visitor center, where a ranger left a can of bear spray on a seat in the auditorium, and a visitor accidentally set it off by sitting on it. That building had to be cleared as well and afterwards, about 20 people suffered temporary side effects.
Bear spray is commonly carried by hikers visiting destinations where there is a real possibility of encountering the creatures. The potent pepper spray is designed to stop a bear in its tracks, without doing any lasting damage to the animal, and it is likely that this particular can was accidentally left behind by someone heading out on a day hike. Hopefully they didn’t need it where they were going.