Chicago Traffic Control Center Fire Stops Flights

At least 450 flight have been cancelled to and from O'Hare and Midway International Airports.
6:49 | 09/26/14

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Transcript for Chicago Traffic Control Center Fire Stops Flights
Up Friday morning travel nightmare in Chicago story that is developing now flights in and out of both busy airports midway and O'Hare. Have been stopped thousands of travelers stuck in long lines wondering now. How long until flights we'll be taking off once again clover when I'm Dan Cutler in new York at least 446. Flights canceled this morning to and from -- Chicago airports. All because of a fire. And an air traffic control facility ABC's David -- joining us now from Washington with more on this situation that is still developing and David what do we know what's happening. Dennis happened at the a -- a regional center a Rory is a city west of Chicago. The regional centers are the ones who take over the aircraft after it's taken off and then. Talk to them during their flight path what happened was that apparently according to the -- rural police department. A man in the basement. Was found with self inflicted -- non gunshot wounds but self inflicted wounds. And there was also a fire the man has been taken to a hospital and the fire has been extinguished but this was in the telecommunications. Part. Of this building and those telecommunications. Are the lines -- -- use to speak to the aircraft which is why they shut down that regional center. And put the work off to other regional centers but in the meantime as you mentioned 450 flights canceled as of 9 o'clock eastern standard time. That is 13%. Of the traffic that comes in and out of midway. And O'Hare and we're expecting even more cancellations. As they get this wrapped up in a -- when they do get it wrapped up in Aurora. Now there's -- a hundred delay so far as well you mention thousands of passengers being affected by this. And one other thing we should add Dan the FBI is on the scene and the ATF is on the scene in a -- in that regional center. The FBI treating it as a crime scene the ATF trying to figure out what was going on -- the fire. We're told that the FAA's not really been able to get back into that. Telecommunications. Area to figure -- whether anything was damaged and whether or not they can bring that -- back up so you got one of the big regional centers in the country down affecting Chicago significantly. And it is on going -- And in fact I want to bring up the misery map which shows exactly those travel delays and those cancellations let's pull that up there and see exactly how. Those two airports have been affecting air travel throughout the entire country that you can see obviously the largest red circle they're showing the amount of delays and cancellations that are taking place at those areas that are affected in that particular area. Most of the country seems to be doing all right though but as -- point out that David there could be a trickle effect. Later on down the road let me ask you this and do we know at this point than whether the FAA will be able to put another. Sort of communications or other kind of air traffic facility on line to be able to sort of augment why this is being crippled right now edited a handoff. -- mean that it's a redundant systems so even though that senator -- a Rory is for the midwest the upper midwest there. They can hand off -- to other senators that are around the country and they can take some of that. Moving aircraft back and forth -- is really bad at the beginning because if you planes in the air and you shut down -- -- you can't get into O'Hare. Or midway now everybody knows that better spaces in trouble so planes aren't even taking off but that -- -- cancellations and that does mean delays and it means it's -- Friday. Hassell for a lot of travelers. I this is like a very basic question do I don't ask it anyway is for him for the traveling public on how important that are these two airports and other large airports. But as far as the overall network in the domestic travel. That's why you see in the misery map there's some of the domino effect that happens you know Chicago is a -- for a couple of airlines a very big hub for United Airlines so if you take. This has spoken -- -- out you have a lot of problems moving people around because lot of folks go through Chicago to get other places. -- from the FAA when they think they're gonna have that sent her back up and running. But with the FBI the ATF on the scene one would assume and the man removed from the area with the self inflicted wounds. That they're going to be able to determine very quickly with the fire out whether or not they can get that -- back up and running. Yeah participate in iPod is appropriate response but do we know any kind of a timeframe for when that fire was first detected. And when the actual stop for any flights taking off or landing in those two airports are currently I don't have the moment by moment for you but it was this morning about two hours ago about 8 o'clock who started hearing about this in some of the delays coming in. From Chicago midway. How long it took them I mean -- one would assume -- and I don't know this for a fact that. You fire fire alarms go off in the center that people evacuated from that regional center in -- A firefighters came they found the fire that put it out -- they found this man was self inflicted wounds. Transfered him to the hospital don't know how extensive the fire was or what kind of damage it did. And we do -- -- -- a live look here we -- to some people it looks to be moving around outside the perimeter of the campus of that facility there whether -- going back into the building or moving to another building it's kind of difficult to see this because it's such a tight shot there. -- David you're pointing out though that the purpose of this kind of facilities to handle the the communications. With the plane. After it's taken off and thrust right you have a you have a tower that. On every airport that handles aircraft as they taxi that given that the approval to taxi to the runway. And then give them approval to take -- what's it taken off -- hand them off. To the regional center whichever regional -- that they're going to be flying through and it's that regional center that will determine. You know what altitude they fly out what hating me fly -- and so we have regional centers all over this country that. That handle those aircraft once they are released by the tower. -- -- we don't is that regional centers that handle any other airports other -- -- Chicago area. In a way to do this -- their regional senators are usually you know handle. A number of airports in that general area of course the two biggest ones for -- I mean as I mentioned earlier the good news here is that everybody knows this now so planes are not taking off for Chicago. At this point but that's -- -- a lot of solace for somebody who's trying to get the Chicago. Or get out of Chicago. Today. All right ABC's David -- in Washington giving us the latest on that didn't we appreciate your time and insight of course as always and of course you can keep up with the store still developing out of the Chicago area where both midway and O'Hare airports. There has been a ground stop for any flights in and out of either those airports because of a fire at a communications facility in -- nearby area. You can say -- today on this in real time by downloading ABC news -- star and story. For exclusive updates on the go. For now though I'm down -- -- York.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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