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Amazon warehouse in Baltimore partially collapses in low-level tornado, killing two

The National Weather Service confirmed Saturday that a tornado struck Baltimore, resulting in the partial collapse of an Amazon warehouse where two men were killed and causing heavy damage at a nearby apartment complex.

The two died at the Amazon distribution center in southeast Baltimore when a wall collapsed during the storm Friday.

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Weather service officials rated the storm EF-1 — a somewhat low-level tornado but still serious enough to cause significant damage. It brought winds of up to 105 mph along its 2.5-mile path, officials said.

It was the first fatal tornado in Maryland since 2002.

Baltimore Fire Chief Roman Clark said a 50-foot wall collapsed at the Amazon fulfillment center. One victim was found under debris Friday night, and firefighters used heavy equipment to remove debris to locate the second victim Saturday.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the two killed were not employees of the online retail giant but worked for outside companies as contractors. One man worked for real estate consulting firm JLL, and the other was a driver who delivered orders to Amazon customers.

The victims’ names were being withheld until their families could be notified.

According to the weather service, the tornado first blew over a tractor-trailer on Interstate 95 before moving east and blasting through garage doors at a van rental facility.

Officials said the storm became most severe as it reached the Amazon building, pulling off part of the roof — including iron rafters. Once the roof came off, concrete panels collapsed. The storm also moved a dozen truck trailers and picked up debris that smashed car windows.

Images taken from outside the facility showed a badly damaged truck and a downed light pole, among other damage. Roads around the facility were filled with debris.

Weather service officials said the storm continued east before touching down again at the Holabird East apartment complex in Dundalk, pulling the roof off one building completely. Baltimore County officials said there were no reports of injuries there, but several tenants were displaced.

At the Twin Arch Shopping Center in Mount Airy, sections of ceiling collapsed, a spokesman for Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Co. said.

The warehouse deaths were the first tornado-related fatalities in Maryland since 2002, when three people were killed in a twister that hit the town of La Plata, south of Washington.

Duncan and Anderson write for the Baltimore Sun

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