It was a Sunday that travelers will never forget that was as historic as it was maddening - and confusing.

The past two weekends have been pretty rough for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. One week before it was dealing with snow. This weekend, it was fire that brought things to a halt.

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When the lights finally came back on late Sunday night, the concourse erupted with a round of applause. But it was too late to douse the critics who were upset that a fire could cripple the airport for nearly 12 hours.

"When we got to the gate, we didn't know what to do," a frustrated traveler told 11Alive.

RELATED: POWER DOWN | Timeline of the Atlanta airport blackout

It was 12:38 p.m. when Georgia Power started receiving alerts - something was wrong with its system. All of the sudden, the lights and power just went out.

A half-hour later, the airport went dark leaving passengers stranded on planes, in terminals and even on the tarmac.

"We literally have no power and the ETA for having power is very vague," an Atlanta police spokesperson said.

By 3:45 p.m., major airlines started canceling flights - more than 1,100 of them - and international fights already in the air when the problem began were diverted to other airports. Caught in the chaos was former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. In a tweet, he called the airport's handling of the situation "total and abject failure."

â–ºRELATED: What caused the power to go out at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport

"I've been trying to ask everybody how can you help me, but nobody wants to help me," an international passenger on the way to Johannesburg, South Africa said. "Everybody doesn't know anything."

While firefighters responded immediately, the city said toxic fumes from the electrical fire prevented repair crews from entering the underground tunnel until 4 p.m. But passengers had no way to know - because of the concourse itself. They, too, were in the dark.

"Again, I want to emphasize how deeply sorry I am for the inconvenience that was caused to thousands of passengers," Mayor Kasim Reed said.

Watch video of the damage:

It wasn't until 8:45 p.m. - more than 8 hours after the problem started - that the mayor held a press conference to explain what was going on.

Atlanta certainly didn't need more damage to its image. 11Alive spoke with a passenger who said he gave a ride to a man with Amazon's real estate division who was scouting properties.

We've since contacted the company to find out more about this and whether it was connected to Amazon's search for its new corporate headquarters location.

The company said no adding that if someone were in Atlanta from Amazon, it wasn't for the project in question.