Storms, tornados hit middle TN

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10 Dead In Macon Co.; 5 Killed In Sumner Co.

Natural Gas Station Explodes Near Hartsville

Night sky is lit from gas explosion.
UPDATED: 8:14 am CST February 6, 2008

Rescue workers in rural areas began searching door to door Wednesday morning for more victims of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes that killed at least 24 people statewide.

Ten deaths were reported in Macon County, along the Kentucky border about 50 miles northeast of Nashville, said Randy Harris, a spokesman for the Tennessee National Guard and Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.Authorities in Macon County reported around 30 homes and businesses were destroyed by the storms on Tuesday night. An animal clinic on Highway 52 West in Lafayette was destroyed, and there were reports of homes damaged on Akersville Road.

The county is near where a spectacular explosion at a natural gas gumping station shot flames 400 feet in the air Tuesday night and cast an eery glow for miles.It was not immediately clear if there were any deaths or injuries from the explosion. Macon County emergency director Keith Scruggs confirmed at least eight deaths from storm damage alone.”It’s (a suspected tornado) cut Macon County in two,” Scruggs said. “I’ve been working 34 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.””Roads are blocked. It’s massive. We can’t tell the extent of the damage yet. They have search teams going out now to check subdivision developments, housing and more rural areas.”Residents across the county began sifting through debris and searching for neighbors and family, despite having no power Tuesday night. As the sun rose Wednesday morning, destroyed roads strewn with debris, downed trees and power lines and destroyed homes could be seen clearly.In a few parts of the mostly rural county, no authorities could be found.Ray Story said his 70-year-old brother, Bill Clark, died after the storms leveled his nearby mobile home.Clark died in the back of a pickup truck as Story and his wife tried rushing him to the hospital, Story said.”He never had a chance,” Nova Story said. “I looked him right in the eye and he died right there in front of me.””He knew he was going to die when we put him in the pickup truck,” Ray said.The Nashville Area Red Cross said they have opened a shelter for anyone affected by the storms. The shelter is the Hartsville Pike Church of Christ, located at 744 Hartsville Pike in Gallatin, Tenn. The shelter is currently housing 33 affected persons.State emergency officials said at least 150 people were injured in the storms that struck first in Memphis on Tuesday afternoon and swept northeast along Interstate 40 to Nashville.Sumner County Sheriff Bob Barker confirmed Wednesday morning that five people have died in the county. He said emergency officials are still searching for more possible fatalities.Two people died in a home near Jackson. Three people were killed when a roof collapsed at the DSC Logistics warehouse in Memphis.A man was killed in his car in Fayette County and two others died in Hardin County east of Memphis during the wave of storms that began Tuesday.Barker said authorities found the body of a woman in a ditch along Highway 25, and her 11-month-old son was found alive nearby. The baby did not have life-threatening injuries and was taken to Sumner Regional Medical Center.In Jackson, Union University was hard hit and at least eight people were trapped in a damaged dorm until rescuers could dig them out.Tim Ellsworth, the school’s news director, said 51 students went to the hospital and nine had injuries that were classified as serious.A string of tornadoes ravaged several western and middle Tennessee counties in April 2006, killing 36 people.K-9 dogs were being used Wednesday morning in the town of Fairview in Williamson County to search through the debris for injured people. Explosion, Fire At Natural Gas Pumping Station A massive fire erupted at a natural gas pumping station in a rural area northeast of Nashville, and Highway Patrol authorities said there were an undetermined number of fatalities.Officials weren’t sure what started the fire late Tuesday at the Columbia Gulf Natural Gas pumping station near the Macon County community of Green Grove, about 40 miles from Nashville.”We do not know at this time what caused it, and we are attempting to get close enough to get some information,” said Tennessee Emergency Management spokesman Donnie Smith. “These flames are shooting 400, 500 feet in the air.”Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Mike Browning said the station could have been damaged by a line of severe storms that moved through Tennessee shortly before the fire broke out. The weather system also spawned tornadoes that killed at least eight people Tuesday.Kelly Merritt, a spokesman for Columbia Gulf Transmission Co., confirmed the fire at the company’s Hartsville compressor station but said he didn’t have any more details.Merritt said the company is shutting off the gas on both sides of the station, which is used to boost pressure along the gas line that runs from Louisiana to the West Virginia-Kentucky border.Merritt said the station is not manned around the clock.Columbia is a subsidiary of Merrillville, Ind.-based NiSource Inc.Westmoreland Mayor Ricky Woodard said the fire was about seven miles away from his city, started around 10 p.m. and spread to houses nearby. He said casualties have been reported in Macon County and several people are reported missing.”It’s got the whole sky lit up,” Woodard said. “You can see it in Kentucky.”Wilson County Sheriff Terry Ashe said he had 10 emergency units headed to the area.

It was a bad night in middle TN. Our thoughts go out to the families of those who perished.
Many homes were destroyed. The natural gas explosion and fire was visible for up to at least 90 miles.



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