Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bathroom fire at air traffic facility halts O’Hare, Midway flights

Ground stop at O’Hare, Midway after smoke reported at Elgin FAA center

A fire in a bathroom ceiling fan sent smoke billowing through an Elgin FAA facility Tuesday, forcing its evacuation and the shutdown of all air traffic into and out of O’Hare International and Midway airports, officials said.
The Elgin Fire Department sent four fire engines and two ladder trucks to the FAA’s Elgin Terminal Radar Approach Control building, or TRACON, after receiving a call about smoke at the facility at 11:37 a.m. Tuesday.

Meanwhile, all flights into and out of O’Hare — the nation’s second busiest airport — and Midway were grounded by the evacuation of the Elgin TRACON building. Controllers there guide O’Hare and Midway flights into within about five miles of each airport, where controllers at each airport take over.
Elgin Fire Capt. Anthony Bialek said a motor in a bathroom ceiling fan had burned up, sending smoke into the building’s heating and air conditioning system.
Once in that system, Bialek said, “It blew all over the place. That’s why they had trouble finding it.’’
Bialek said he believed the fan was in the women’s bathroom, and he did not know how far it was from where air traffic controllers work. But finding the source of the smoke was not easy, he said.
“We don’t want to damage stuff in there, so we were being very careful, taking our time,’’ Bialek said. “They never had any flames or heavy smoke, it was just light smoke and they were like, `Where is this coming from?’ ‘’
Controllers finally started to return to the building around 1:10 p.m., Bialek said, but the Chicago Aviation Department said the ground stoppage remained in place.
The flight tracking site FlightAware.com reported more than 180 O’Hare departures and 12 Midway departures had been canceled. Scores of flights into the airports were canceled, and Southwest Airlines said it was diverting incoming flights to other airports in the region.
A grass fire at the Elgin facility caused delays at both O’Hare and Midway in 2013, leaving planes grounded for at least 45 minutes.

Link : http://www.suntimes.com/27419821-761/smoke-in-air-traffic-facility-halts-ohare-midway-flights.html#

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