Although the fire is now out, officials with the Federal Aviation Administration are delaying and canceling flights at Chicago’s two main airports after it damaged the agency’s facility in Aurora, Ill. USA Today reports that more than 150 flights at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport have been canceled. The website also reports that dozens of other flights that were inbound to O’Hare are being diverted to other airports.
Details on the Chicago fire
Firefighters reportedly found one man in the facility’s basement with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to NBC Chicago. Paramedics took him to an area hospital. They treated a second man for smoke inhalation.
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Aurora firefighters responded to a call of a fire at the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center around 5:45 a.m. Central time. A helicopter with a CNN affiliate flew over the area at the time of the fire and said no flames or smoke was visible from the air.
Officials evacuated the building and transferred employees and management to adjacent air traffic facilities, according to a spokesperson for the FAA. The agency ordered pilots in aircraft on the ground to shut down their engines.
Chicago airport flights delayed
The FAA has delayed flights at both O’Hare Airport and Midway Airport as officials dealt with the aftermath of the fire. The agency has not given any firm indication on how long they will halt flights out of the two Chicago airports, although the Chicago Tribune reports that a spokesperson said the stoppages could last until at least 8 .a.m. A spokesperson for Southwest Airlines said all of its flights at Midway have been canceled until noon.
Four months ago, another fire at a different FAA facility also halted flights temporarily at Chicago’s airports. Authorities cancelled approximately 1,100 flights across both O’Hare and Midway airports. On average, flights from O’Hare were delayed by at least an hour. That fire happened at an FAA radar facility in nearby Elgin, Ill.
O’Hare is the second-busiest airport in the U.S., with more than 15 million air passengers flying through the airport every day. Midway Airport is the 24th-busiest airport according to passengers.