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One person killed when three tornadoes strike Arkansas

Crews in Arkansas are cleaning up debris after a series of tornadoes on Wednesday.
Crews in Arkansas are cleaning up debris after a series of tornadoes on Wednesday.
  • NEW: 79-year-old Ward Baldridge of Pearson killed
  • Tornado watch lifted for Arkansas but remains for Mississippi
  • Twisters struck Saline, White, Cleburne counties
  • Three people injured; dozens of homes damaged

(CNN) -- One person was killed and three others were injured after a series of powerful tornadoes ripped through dozens of homes in central Arkansas on Wednesday night, officials said Thursday.

Ward Baldridge, 79, died when a tornado hit his home in Pearson, according to a CNN producer who is related to the victim.

The house was leveled, and Baldridge, his wife and his grandson were blown hundreds of feet away, Alexis Ginsberg said. The victims were sucked out of the house by the winds and landed in a nearby field, she said, citing Baldridge's grandson.

The two survivors are in critical condition, she said.

The first twister struck in Saline County at 6:28 p.m. Wednesday, the National Weather Service said. The tornado damaged 22 homes, an Arkansas Emergency Management spokeswoman said.

A resident said she could hear the storm roaring as it approached the area.

"It was the awfulest roaring I ever heard in my life," she told CNN affiliate KTHV. "My house felt like it was fixing to crumble over me."

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Video: Arkansas tornado on video
Video: Storms hit Arkansas

Another tornado struck north of Saline in White County at 8:25 p.m., the weather service said. That storm damaged nine homes and injured one person.

The third tornado was the one that killed Baldridge. It struck in nearby Cleburne County at 9:05 p.m., said Renee Preslar, spokeswoman for the Department of Emergency Management. Several homes were damaged or destroyed.

Along with tornadoes, central Arkansas was raked by powerful thunderstorms and golf ball-size hail, the National Weather Service said.

"The storm seems to be shifting to the east, so the severe weather should be out of this area by [Thursday]," said John Lewis, a senior forecaster with an Arkansas office of the National Weather Service.

A tornado watch that had been in effect for Arkansas was lifted early Thursday morning. But a tornado watch was issued for most of Mississippi and parts of Tennessee and Kentucky, forecasters said.

CNN's Lateef Mungin contributed to this report.