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"It looks like a bomb went off," one 18-year-old former resident of the town told AL.com

By Jen Juneau
January 26, 2021 11:12 AM
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A tornado that hit near Birmingham, Alabama, late Monday night has left at least one person dead, close to 30 people injured and a path of destruction in its wake, as shown in video footage shared by WCNC Charlotte.

AL.com reports that the twister touched down at 10:30 p.m. local time near Interstate 65 in Fultondale, about 8 miles north of Birmingham, and spanned about a quarter mile wide.

Fultondale Fire Chief Justin McKenzie confirmed the death to CBS News, while the city's Police Chief D.P. Smith told the outlet that the victim, who is believed to be a teenager, died after being trapped in his family's basement.

The family reportedly took shelter in the basement before a tree fell onto their home, triggering a collapse. According to AL.com, Smith confirmed the young man was pronounced dead at the scene at about 3 a.m.

"They were doing what they were supposed to be doing," Smith of the family taking shelter. (According to the police chief, several other members of the victim's family were injured while one, who was not injured, was in shock.)

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alabama tornado
Alabama tornado destruction
alabama tornado
Alabama tornado destruction

Fultondale Mayor Larry Holcomb confirmed the injury count to AL.com around 7 a.m. Tuesday, revealing that 11 people had been treated and released on the scene while another 17 were being tended to at hospitals.

The storm destroyed a bevy of businesses and downed power lines, which fell onto Interstate 65 and caused accidents, McKenzie told CNN. AL.com reports overturned vehicles as a result of the tornado, as well.

A video from CNN affiliate WVTM shows considerable damage to the Hampton Inn Birmingham/Fultondale, while AL.com reports that Fultondale High School suffered "substantial damage" and many businesses, such as Hurst Towing, were "destroyed."

According to CNN, the back half of the roof of Hilldale Baptist Church in the nearby city of Center Point was ripped off, and the town's recreation center also sustained damage.

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"Looks like we will have a long day ahead of us tomorrow. Hopefully we can get everything covered up," Center Point Mayor Bobby Scott told CNN. "We don't have any injuries to report right now, so we're definitely grateful for that."

Officials confirmed to multiple outlets that they were still looking for people trapped inside their homes, with Holcomb telling AL.com, "We want to search every house and make sure no one is trapped, maybe not necessarily injured but just not able to get out."

Speaking with AL.com, Dave Moerbe — a senior pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in nearby Gardendale — said of the "devastating" damage in his old Fultondale neighborhood, "There are 45 homes in this community and all of them have some damage. ... Debris is everywhere. We pulled one lady out of back window because she couldn't get out."

"It looks like a bomb went off," added his 18-year-old son, Sam.