Downtown Mineral Wells Struck by Tornado: Police

Tornadoes roared across North Texas Tuesday night, creating widespread damage but leaving no immediate reports of injuries.

A large tornado struck Mineral Wells, about 45 miles west of Fort Worth, where the damage was so widespread the Texas Department of Public Safety advised people to avoid the area due to downed power lines and other scattered debris.

Mineral Wells police said the tornado collapsed an abandoned bank building behind the Baker Hotel, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, NBC News reported.

The twister “dropped on top of” police headquarters, causing minor damage, a Mineral Wells police officer said. The department is still occupying the building and dispatch is continuing to work inside.

"It was huge, and it was just funneling down. And it went up two or three times and came down. But every time it came down, it seemed like it was just getting bigger," said Mineral Wells resident Tammie Matson, who witnessed the reported tornado.

Palo Pinto County Emergency Management Director Chad Jordan said moderate damage was widespread in Mineral Wells, with the worst apparently downtown. A number of buildings lost their roof, and large trees and utility poles were strewn across many of the major streets in the city.

Emergency officials appealed for the public to avoid downtown in order to facilitate cleanup work.

"We're thankful nobody was injured, and, as you can see, there's a lot of people pulling together. We're a tight-knit community and we'll get through this and hopefully get back to normal," Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan said.

A dispatcher for the Palo Pinto County Sheriff's Office said there was "so much damage there's been no assessment," adding that authorities would have a better idea of the extent in the morning, NBC News reported.

Elsewhere in North Texas, storm spotters said at least one tornado inflicted heavy damage to houses and apartment buildings in Runaway Bay and Booneville, about 50 miles northwest of Fort Worth.

Another tornado was reported after noon Tuesday in the Brazos Valley city of Giddings. Spencer Schneider, the city's emergency manager, said a tornado struck part of the city shortly after noon Tuesday, damaging outbuildings and causing some roof damage to a Ramada Inn.

Schneider said debris was blown through a window of one of the hotel's upper-story rooms, striking a male guest in the head. He was sent to a San Marcos hospital, about 60 miles southwest of Giddings, for treatment of head lacerations. Schneider said the injuries were not life-threatening.

More violent weather is expected Wednesday as clusters of thunderstorms, possibly severe, are expected over west, north and central Texas as well as western and central Oklahoma, The Weather Channel reported.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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