Air travel for thousands of people across the country was thrown into disarray Friday morning after a fire closed a major Chicago-area air traffic control center that directs traffic across a large swath of the Midwest.
Mystery surrounded the interruption, as authorities reported not only that a fire closed the Federal Aviation Administration control center in Aurora, Illinois, but also that a man was found with self-inflicted wounds there.
Responders found a person suffering from cuts to at least one wrist, two law enforcement officials told CNN, citing initial reports from investigators. The person is being treated and questioned about the fire, which appears to have been intentionally set, the officials said. Investigators believe the person tried to commit suicide, the officials said.
The fire is not believed to be a terrorism act, Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas told reporters. It appears to have been set by a contract employee, he said. Two people were injured: the male suffering from self-inflicted wounds and a man, 50, who was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, Thomas said.
Flights in and out of Chicago’s O’Hare International and Midway airports were stopped after the fire closed the control center around 6 a.m.
The closure affected many flights, because the center controls planes not just flying in and out of Chicago, but also those flying long-distance routes to other regions, raising the potential for thousands of flight delays nationwide.