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UPDATE: ‘Benign but probably nasty’ fumes at Leesburg air traffic center cause hundreds of delays

A screenshot showing air traffic activity during the delays. Screenshot Courtesy/Nick Aitken
Update: July 11, 3:51 p.m.

A spokesman with the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority on Tuesday afternoon said the D.C. region's three major airports have resumed normal operations, but passengers traveling through the region should still check with their airlines for the most up-to-date flight information.

Original July 10 story with updates:

An evacuation at the Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control center in Leesburg delayed hundreds of flights across the region's three major airports Monday night and into Tuesday morning.

Loudoun County Fire and Rescue spokeswoman Laura Rinehart said the facility was evacuated around 6:30 p.m. after several people inside complained of fumes. The fire and rescue squad conducted a hazardous materials inspection and turned the building back over to the FAA shortly after 9 p.m.

The fumes initially started due to roof work. According to Rinehart, adhesive chemical fumes wafted into the heating and air system. Rinehart said the chemical fumes were "benign but probably nasty."

“Fumes from construction work permeated the control room at the Washington Center, which handles high altitude flights over the area. We are actively working to fully ventilate the facility. Controllers are handling a reduced number of flights safely,” FAA officials said in an initial statement.

Rinehart said 51 people were evaluated after the evacuation and one woman was sent to Inova Hospital in Lansdowne as a precaution.

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees operations at Dulles, Reagan and Baltimore Marshall airports, urged travelers to check with the airlines for flight statuses.

"There are many flight cancellations and delays, which are expected to continue into Tuesday. Passengers should check with their airline for specific information about their flight," MWAA officials said in a 10:10 p.m. statement.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated the "flames initially started ... " "Flames" should have read "fumes."


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