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Friday, May 31, 2013

Tornadoes Tear Through Central Oklahoma

Twelve days after a tornado ravaged Moore, Okla., killing 24 people and leveling entire neighborhoods, residents scrambled for cover again on Friday night as another tornado struck their town and nearby Oklahoma City.

Once again, the National Weather Service issued an unusual “dangerous” tornado warning for the Oklahoma City area as multiple tornadoes carved paths of destruction from west to east across central Oklahoma, flipping cars, downing power lines and ripping off roofs.

KFOR-TV, the local NBC affiliate, was providing live online coverage Friday night.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol told The Associated Press that a number of motorists were injured and numerous vehicles damaged, and that a few motorists appeared to be missing.

Sean Schofer, a storm chaser, posted this photo on Twitter of a Weather Channel vehicle damaged by the storm.

An evacuation was ordered for Will Rogers World Airport southwest of Oklahoma City, and those left behind as the tornado approached were directed to underground tunnels.

Power outages led to the cancellation of all flights in and out of the airport Friday night. Local news outlets reported that 65,000 customers were without power in central Oklahoma.

An NBC correspondent, Janet Shamlian, was among those in the airport tunnels. She later reported seeing debris, high waters and no power outside the airport.

In addition to the high winds, residents in and around Oklahoma City are dealing with flash flooding, according to Jim Cantore of the Weather Channel.

Dramatic Scenes From Houston Fire

Friday may have been the deadliest day in the history of the Houston Fire Department, officials said, with four firefighters killed while battling a five-alarm blaze that ripped through a large motel on the city’s busy Southwest Freeway. Five more firefighters were taken to area hospitals with injuries, but little information about their condition was available on Friday evening.

A cameraman for a local Fox affiliate in Houston captured dramatic footage of the fire and its aftermath from a helicopter flying above the scene on Friday afternoon. Towering flames leapt from the roof of the motel, the Southwest Inn, and dark smoke hung in the sky overhead. The front section of the building appeared to have collapsed.

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A Fox news affiliate in Houston captured dramatic footage of the fire and its aftermath.
An update posted to Vine, a social media video service, by a user who identified himself as Joshua Kyle Hoppe appeared to show the collapsed front of the Southwest Inn. The video appeared to have been taken from a car driving past the damaged building at some point after the fire was brought under control.

Speaking to The Associated Press, Janice Evans, a spokeswoman for Mayor Annise Parker, said she believed Friday to be the deadliest day in the fire department’s 116-year history.

“It’s a very sad day for the Houston Fire Department and the city of Houston as a whole,” Ms. Evans said.