Flights in Chicago are resuming at a reduced rate following the outbreak of a fire at a nearby Federal Aviation Administration radar center. According to the Chicago Tribune, there are some flights that are arriving and departing at O’Hare and Midway international airports.
The fire in the basement of the radar center in Aurora, Illinois, was intentionally set, and when authorities arrived at the scene they discovered a man with self-inflicted wounds. The source reported that the man suffered burns as well as cuts on his hands and arms.
Tom Ahern, spokesman for the Chicago office of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, told the source that it appeared as though the man used gasoline to start the fire. The agency was unsure why the man set the fire or what his intentions were. However, he was taken to a nearby hospital and between 15 and 30 people inside the center were evaluated.
Police do not believe the man had any terroristic intentions when he set the blaze. He was a contractor, not an air traffic controller or FAA manager.
The source stated that radio frequencies were dead due to the fire. As a result, the facility’s air traffic control system had to switch to its back-up system until the building was evacuated. Upon clearing out the building, all flights in and out of O’Hare and Midway were issued a ground stop, resulting in the cancellations of more than 1,700 flights and more than 800 delays.
The facility, also known as Chicago Center, handles high-altitude air traffic through parts of the Midwest and is in charge of directing the planes to terminal radar facilities.
Hundreds of passengers, including those going out on business travel and vacation getaways, waited in lines for hours when flights were canceled in an attempt to book a seat on another plane and get to their final destinations.