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The man who has been charged with starting a fire that led to the cancellation of 2,000 flights and ongoing delays wrote a cryptic message on his Facebook moments before torching a control tower.
Brian Howard, 36, of Naperville, Illinois, said he was going to take his own life and apologized to his family for the mess he had made, then ended by saying he was going to 'smoke this blunt and move on.'
But the disruption has caused widespread flight delays and affected thousands of passengers' travel plans as airlines scramble to accommodate travelers whose flights were canceled or delayed.
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Delayed: Airline agents attempt to assist passengers with their travel plans after flights were delayed or cancelled at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, after the fire
Reschedule: Travelers wait on line to book and reschedule travel plans after the flight chaos
Long wait: Kelsey Stephenson of Los Angeles and her dog, Daisy were stranded when their flight home was canceled after the small fire at the Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora disrupted air service
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently trying to determine the extent of the damage and when air traffic will return to normal.
The fire stopped all traffic in and out of O'Hare and Midway airports and delays and cancellations caused travel chaos for travelers from around the country.
After the widespread disruption flights began running after five-hours but planes were moving at a slower pace.
The FAA said Friday that it was managing the Aurora facility's traffic through centers in Cleveland, Indianapolis, Kansas City and Minneapolis.
The agency said it would continue to work with those centers over the weekend to reduce disruptions.
Line: Travelers wait on line to book and reschedule travel plans after the flight delays
Briefing: Police have revealed that Brian Howard, 36, of Naperville, Illinois, has been arrested after the fire at an air traffic control center
Chaos: All flights into and out of Chicago's O'Hare and Midway international airports were grounded early on Friday - along with any scheduled to cross the Midwest - after a fire broke out in the basement of the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in Aurora, about 40 miles west of downtown Chicago
Cancelled: A look at the schedule board in Chicago
After the incident, paramedics found Howard and law enforcement officials were able to put out the fire and save his life when they arrived on the scene.
'Take a hard look in the mirror, I have. And this is why I am about to take out ZAU (the control center) and my life,' the Facebook message said, according to an FBI special agent’s comments in an affidavit obtained by CBS Chicago.
'April, Pop, luv you guys and I am sorry. Leaving you with a big mess. Do your best to move on quickly from me please. Feel like I give a [expletive] for the first time in a long time again … but not for too long (haha!) So I’m gonna smoke this blunt and move on, take care everyone.'
There were no indications that the fire was an act of terrorism.
One person at the control center was treated for smoke inhalation.
Stranded: Over 2,000 flights were cancelled Friday, leaving large crowds standing around with not much to do (above)
On the scene: FBI and police spent all day working together
Dazed: Employees at a Chicago airport hang out in the parking lot (above)
Howard was charged with one felony count of destruction of aircraft or aircraft facilities on Friday afternoon.
He had worked at the facility in Aurora for eight years, but was recently told that he was being transferred to Hawaii.
It is unknown if this is what led him to light the fire and attempt to take his own life.
And while flights begun to resume after a delay of about four hours, the repercussions of this fire have caused travel problems throughout the weekend.
Howard remains hospitalized and no court date has been set, prosecutors said.
Frenzy: FBI, police and news teams outside Howard's Naperville apartment (above)
Home: A look at Howard's apartment (above)
Clues: The FBI goes through a car (above) near the Aurora air traffic control center
He would face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted on the charge.
The incident caused major delays at O'Hare and the domestic hub Midway International Airport, affecting flights from almost every state and routes with Europe, Asia and Latin America.
'There's cascading delays because nothing can take off bound for Chicago from anywhere,' said Doug Church, spokesman for the National Air Traffic Controllers Association, a union of air traffic controllers.
'The impact is national and major.'
Still going: Flight problems continued all weekend
At O'Hare, passengers were scrambling to find alternative transportation or bracing for long delays.
'I'm shocked at how calm everyone is. With everything going on in the world, maybe we're all managing our expectations. It's a fire in Aurora, it's not ISIS,' said Cynthia Stemler of the Chicago suburb of Lake Bluff, who was heading to Newark, New Jersey.
The FAA is still assessing the damage, which may be significant, but the agency hopes to restore air traffic to relatively normal levels over the next few days, they said.
If you or anyone you know is considering suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255