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WASHINGTON -- Small fires in the convention hotel being used by the American Political Science Association forced many attendees out of their beds, and they were forced to try to sleep in ballrooms. As of Saturday morning at 8 a.m., the hotel had been cleared to resume activities, and sessions were starting up again. There were no injuries, and local press reports said arson was suspected (although there are no indications that the political scientists were being targeted).

The political scientists in attendance (and others who monitored the situation through the official #APSA14 hashtag and the unofficial #ASPAonFire hashtag) seemed to be responding in good spirits. The APSA has faced more than its share of annual meeting safety issues. In 2012, the association was forced to call off its meeting -- scheduled for New Orleans -- due to a hurricane.

This year, several comments on Twitter joked that when told to evacuate their rooms immediately, the political scientists largely followed directions and didn't pack or get dressed -- but they did take laptops and smartphones. The evidence is clear in many comments on Twitter, and with photos on social media of scholars in their bathrobes.

Several joked that -- this being the bicentennial of the year that the British burned the White House -- British political scientists should be prime suspects. Several academic presses announced "fire sales" for the exhibit hall Saturday.

Here are some of the other choice remarks on Twitter:

  • Reports that Russian "volunteers" have liberated Marriott hotel have not been validated.
  • I, for one, am certain it was the sociologists.
  • Seriously folks, if you didn't want the 7:30 am panels, let's just use our words, not a match.
  • I bet it was the APA. Their citation system has always been suspect.
  • Whoever set fire to the conference hotel, I wish I had your IRB.
  • If you are wearing your name tag in Salon 1, you are a douche.
  • Planning my "these papers were on fire" commentary for my discussant work later today.
  • Can anyone confirm @TomCoburn was NOT there? (Coburn is the U.S. senator who has campaigned against federal funding of political science research.)
  • Publicity stunt for fire alarm vs. police patrol theory of Cong oversight.
  • Next APSA panel should be titled "Hurricanes and Arson: Is APSA cursed?"

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