Flights resuming after fire at air traffic center forces hundreds of cancellations

Dennis McCormack of Rockaway, N.J. checks the departure board only to find out that his flight to Newark, N.J. has been canceled at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)

CHICAGO (AP) — Flights have begun taking off and landing again at Chicago’s two airports after a fire at a suburban air traffic control center forced hundreds of cancellations.


All flights in and out of O’Hare and Midway airports were halted for more than five hours, causing disruptions across the U.S. air travel network. More than 850 flights were canceled in Chicago alone.

Authorities say the early morning fire at the control center in Aurora was deliberately set by a contract employee of the Federal Aviation Administration. A spokesman for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives says emergency crews found the suspect in the building’s basement, where the blaze began, with self-inflicted knife wounds and burns to his body. He was taken to a hospital.

Another employee of the facility was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation.

The fire was quickly extinguished but its effects rippled across the country, with flights being turned back, diverted to other airports, canceled or delayed.

The FAA, ATF, FBI and local police and fire departments are investigating.

Authorities say it wasn’t terrorism.

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