Chicago airport fire forces Columbia travelers to change plans

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COLUMBIA - A fire at a Chicago air traffic control center in Aurora, Il. has forced all passengers traveling between Columbia and Chicago to make alternate plans.

Passengers said they received a call this morning telling them all of the flights between the two cities have been canceled for the day.

One couple visiting from Canada said they were supposed to depart to O'Hare International Airport at 12:40 p.m. today when the cancellation left them disheveled.

"Total confusion. I mean, you're packed and you're ready to go, and you get a call," one passenger said. "I missed the call, so then it was a recording to say to (the flight) has been canceled, so you didn't know what to expect."

The couple said they called back but did not want to wait on hold, so they traveled to Columbia Regional Airport and went to the ticket counter before being helped out.

"It was a bit of a rollercoaster, but at the end of the day, everything is going to be ok."

The couple said they were visiting Missouri for the first time. They also said they were going to get a hotel for the night and visit the Roots N Blues N BBQ Festival in downtown Columbia before trying to head back to Canada tomorrow.

"I guess that's just what happens when you travel," the passenger said. "It's totally possible for something like this to happen."

Authorities say the fire at the air traffic control center in Chicago was set by a contract employee and that there was only one injury.