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Chicago Air Traffic Employee Sets Fire, Causing 2,000 Flights Disruption: Reports

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Almost 2,000 flights were disrupted at O'Hare International and Midway airports in Chicago after an air traffic employee, Brian Howard set a fire and tried to commit suicide at the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) facility in Illinois, USA Today reported Saturday.

MOSCOW, September 27 (RIA Novosti) - Almost 2,000 flights were disrupted at O'Hare International and Midway airports in Chicago after an air traffic employee, Brian Howard set a fire and tried to commit suicide at the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) facility in Illinois, USA Today reported Saturday.

Police were alerted by Howard's relative, who checked his Facebook page just minutes before the incident and saw what appeared to be a suicide note.

"Take a hard look in the mirror, I have," Howard posted on his Facebook page, "and this why I'm about to take out ZAU [traffic control center] and my life."

"So I'm [going to] smoke this blunt and move on, take care everyone," he wrote before setting the fire.

36-year old Brian Howard was found in the basement of the facility suffering "non-gunshot self- inflicted wounds."

The federal complaint filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in Chicago stated that Howard attempted to set a fire using a gasoline can and towels.

He was charged with "setting fire to, damaging, and destroying an air navigation facility and interfering by force and violence with the operation of such facility."

If convicted, Howard faces up to 20 years in prison and a fine of as much as $250,000, according to Chicago FBI spokeswoman Joan Hyde.

Later on Saturday, the FAA issued an official update reporting that flights were allowed to arrive in and depart from Chicago, but at a reduced rate.

"Several airlines are canceling or re-routing flights. Some airlines have canceled or delayed flights. Travelers are encouraged to contact their airlines for further information," the update reads.

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