Have a really big fire right next to the El:
All CTA trains on the Red, Brown and Purple lines north of downtown were halted for nearly three hours at the height of the evening rush because of an extra-alarm fire that broke out in a furniture store along the tracks near DePaul University.
Adding to commuting headaches, a Metra train struck a person on the Union Pacific North Line near the Ravenswood stop on the North Side around the same time, causing the cancellation of at least one train and delays of more than two hours on others.
And a fire near the Rockwell Avenue stop delayed Brown Line trains around that station for nearly an hour, also late in the afternoon.
By about 6:20 p.m., Red and Brown Line trains were still experiencing delays, but were able to get past the site of the fire at Roy's Home Furnishings, 2455 N. Sheffield Ave., according to the CTA website.
A close friend of mine lives directly across the street from the furniture shop. She reports having a smoke-filled apartment that she and her dog have been unable to approach for four hours.
Having discovered this from her and from the Tribune before leaving work, I took a cab...right into the biggest traffic mess I've seen in Chicago in years. Nothing was moving. I finally got out of the cab a mile from home and walked past buses, cars, other cabs, and I think a taxiing airplane, which still might be stuck on Lincoln Avenue.