Flight delays persist at O'Hare, Midway following fire at FAA to - FOX 35 News Orlando

Flight delays persist at O'Hare, Midway following fire at FAA tower

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The lines were long and tempers were short at O'Hare Airport where more than 600 flights were canceled Tuesday. Wednesday morning, stranded passengers were still trying to get to their destinations.

“It's just insane…I don't like coming through Chicago and now I'm reminded why,” said Susan Trogan, who was traveling to Flint, Michigan.

The cause of the travelers' “flightmares” was a fire in a bathroom ceiling fan at the FAA tower in Elgin. The facility suddenly started to fill with smoke and had to be evacuated. The evacuation then shutdown all traffic in and out of O'Hare and Midway.

“I left Atlanta around 11:30 this morning, we were diverted to St. Louis. Left there, came here and my flight to Kansas City has been canceled…they don't have another one until tomorrow night,” said Belinda Harris, who was traveling to Kansas City.

The Chicago Wolves team was another group of people impacted by the delays. FOX 32 News learned the team was scheduled to fly to Toronto for a playoff game Tuesday night. Only 16 of the team members were able to fly out Tuesday - the team needs 20 players for a game. A team spokesperson told FOX 32's Darlene Hill the rest of the team will get on flights Monday morning and hopefully be in Toronto by 2 p.m.

The Elgin TRACON tower, which directs all flights to within five miles of Chicago's airports, began operating again by midafternoon. However, by then the damage was done.

People were calling airlines, travel agents and rental car agencies with more frustration than good fortune.

“Our flights have been canceled so many times, and now they're saying that we can't get out of here until Friday,” added Trogan. “We're only going to Flint, which is a 4 hour drive. We can't get a rental car at any of the places and there's no hotel rooms.”

One man found out getting back to Sydney, Australia was going to take him three days.

“Sometimes you are better off with a Boomerang,” said Rick Otton while laughing.

But among the miserable, there were a few who marveled.

“It's just hustle and bustle but no, no problems at all, 15 minutes delay that's it. Lucky so far…I'll probably be eating my words later,” said Ruth Dorsch, who is flying to Phoenix.

Michelle Morales was in town for a business meeting. The delays, while frustrating, gave her time to experience the city.

"Normally on business trips we don't get to experience fine dining, so we went downtown and walked, stretched our legs and went to the Cheesecake Factory," she said. 

Schedules slowly climbed back to normal Wednesday., but some stranded passengers were still trying to get flights to their destinations. As of 7:30 a.m., there were about 12 delays or cancellations. Some of those delays are arrivals.

FOX 32's Darlene Hill contributed to this story

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