Chicago Airports Grounded After Fire At Air Traffic Control Facility

All flights into and out of Chicago’s two major airports, O’Hare and Midway, are grounded following a fire at an air traffic control facility in nearby Aurora.

As of this post, details are still emerging about the fire that started in the basement of the Federal Aviation Administration control center in Aurora, about 40 miles from downtown Chicago, according to CNN. Investigators say that a man — a contract employee — was found in the basement with self-inflicted cuts to his wrist. Investigators are unsure why the man attempted suicide or set the fire. He is currently in police custody and being questioned, according to MSN. Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas has said that the incident is not terrorism-related.

Another person at the facility has been treated for smoke inhalation.

The control center not only controls flights into and out of Chicago’s two major airports, but also directs traffic over the region. This means that the fire is likely to have ripple effects across air travel throughout the U.S. As of this post, at least 500 flights into and out of Chicago’s airports have been closed, and more cancellations and delays are expected, according to Fox News.

American Airlines spokesperson Leslie Scott said, via CNN, that things are going to be bad for Chicago air travelers for the foreseeable future.

“Anything (that was bound for Chicago) that is still on the ground in its originating city is holding there. Anything in the air has the possibility of being diverted. And anything on the ground in Chicago will stay there.”

As O’Hare and Midway travelers hunker down for what is undoubtedly going to be a long day (or even worse, a long several days), airport officials are doing their best to make things comfortable for the thousands of stranded Chicago air passengers.

This is not the first time a problem at an off-site facility has shut down a major airport. In April of this year, a computer glitch at an off-site facility shut down flights at airports in and around Los Angeles, according to this Inquisitr report.

This is a developing story. More information about the Chicago airport closure will be provided as the story develops.

[Image courtesy of: Chicago Sun Times]