Fire grounding hundreds of flights at O’Hare, Midway was set by employee: officials

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CHICAGO (CNN) -- Friday morning's fire at an FAA facility near Chicago is not believed to be a terrorism act, Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas told reporters. The fire appears to have been set by a contract employee, he said. Two people were injured: a male suffering from self-inflicted wounds and a man, 50, who was treated at the scene for smoke inhalation, Thomas said.

All Chicago air traffic was stopped early Friday morning because of a fire at a Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control facility, an FAA spokeswoman said -- causing flight delays around the nation.

Flights in and out of Chicago's O'Hare International and Midway airports were stopped after the FAA reported a fire at its traffic control facility in the western Chicago suburb of Aurora at about 6 a.m. CT (7 a.m. ET), the Chicago Department of Aviation said.

No arrivals or departures at either airport were expected until at least 8 a.m. CT (9 a.m. ET), the department said.

The stoppage had ripple effects at airports around the country.

"Anything (that was bound for Chicago) that is still on the ground in its originating city is holding there," American Airlines spokeswoman Leslie Scott said. "Anything in the air has the possibility of being diverted. And anything on the ground in Chicago will stay there."

The numbers of flights and passengers affected by the stoppage weren't available.

One person was injured in the Aurora facility fire, FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said. Further details about the fire weren't available.

Workers at the Aurora center were evacuated, Cory said. A helicopter crew with CNN affiliate WLS flew over the facility but said no flames or smoke could be seen from the air.

Smoke at FAA facility stopped Chicago flights in May

Friday's flight stoppages come four months after smoke at an FAA radar facility in Elgin, Illinois, prompted flight cancellations and delays at O'Hare and Midway.

In that May 13 incident, most flights in and out of O'Hare were delayed by an average of an hour or more, and more than 600 flights were canceled, the Chicago Department of Aviation said. Some 75 flights were canceled at Midway.

The smoke in that May incident was caused by a faulty motor in an air conditioning system, the FAA said at the time.