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Tornado Rips Downtown Fort Worth

From Associated Press

A tornado carved a path of destruction through downtown Fort Worth on Tuesday, shattering windows in high-rise buildings, overturning cars and uprooting trees. Four people were killed and at least 36 were injured.

The manager of a popular restaurant on the top floor of the 35-story Bank One building said his business was destroyed.

“Imagine a large bomb going off,” Sean Finley said. “It got pretty hectic in here. We were doing some major yelling to get people out of there.”

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Patrons and employees had to evacuate down 35 flights of stairs to safety, he said.

The tornado hit shortly after 6:30 p.m. amid severe thunderstorms that were accompanied by torrential rains, softball-sized hail and strong winds.

Two people died in the tornado and two others died in storm-related flooding, said Lt. Kent Worley, a spokesman for the Fort Worth Fire Department.

“We have a number of high-rise buildings that have sustained heavy damage,” Worley said. “They looked like they did not have a single pane of glass left in them.”

At the downtown Renaissance Worthington Hotel, windows were broken out in about 12 guest rooms and in the public area, manager Bob Jameson said.

Robert and Wendi Sparlins were eating dinner downtown to celebrate their second anniversary Tuesday.

“The windows starting popping, people were running, trying to get under the table,” Robert Sparlins said. “I saw a chair in the straight-line winds going down the street.”

Katrina Weston of Arlington, east of Fort Worth, told WFAA-TV that when she opened the door of her house she saw the storm blowing shingles off her roof.

“We have no back fence at all, it literally wiped paint off the back of the house,” she said. “There are sirens everywhere, and we have no power.”

One side of the Calvary Cathedral International suffered major damage. Pastor Bob Nichols said his damaged church looks like it had been “in a war zone.”

“We just know God’s going to bring us out stronger.”

Numerous power outages were reported by TXU Electric and Gas in western, northern and central parts of the city.

The storms delayed some flights at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport.

“As a precaution, we evacuated the passengers in the Delta terminal to the tunnels,” said Harmony Sockman, a spokeswoman for Delta Air Lines in Atlanta. “When everything was safe, we brought everyone back up to the terminal.”

In Central Texas, funnel clouds were reported near Dripping Springs, but there were no reports of damage.


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