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Tornado leaves Little Rock like 'war zone'

  • Story Highlights
  • The storm hit parts of Saline County, about 12 miles west of Little Rock
  • More than 50 mobile homes were reported on fire at a large mobile home park
  • At least four people were reported injured
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(CNN) -- At least one tornado ripped through central Arkansas Thursday evening, savaging a mobile home park and sending National Weather Service forecasters into a bunker as the storm roared overhead.

"There's pretty extensive damage in the Little Rock area," said John Lewis, a senior forecaster with the weather service at the North Little Rock Airport.

At least four people were hurt, authorities said, but there were no reports of fatalities.

"We went into our shelter," Lewis said. "We could hear it ... go by."

The storm destroyed hangars at the North Little Rock Airport and tossed numerous small planes. The forecasters spent about three minutes in their shelter.

"The scariest moment of my life," said Mike Aubrey, who was at the airport securing his plane ahead of the storm. "Debris was flying across the ramp. Planes were beginning to stack up."

Aubrey said he saw a Douglas DC-3, an early passenger plane, spin around. The aircraft was nowhere to be found after the tornado passed, he said.

The damage extended from southwest of Little Rock to the northeast. "There's some structural damage in the city of Little Rock and several areas north of North Little Rock," said John Rehrauer, spokesman for the Pulaski County Sheriff's Department. "A lot of trees and power lines are down."

The same storm also caused damage in southwestern Little Rock and the town of Benton, Lewis said. It also pummeled the Hurricane Lake Mobile Home Park in Saline County, about 12 miles southwest of Little Rock. Video Watch how tornado scares residents »

More than 50 mobile homes caught fire at the mobile home park, according to CNN affiliate KARK-TV.

One witness told the TV station that he escaped with his fiancee and two children after he saw the storm moving toward them.

"It's scary, it's like a war zone," he told KARK-TV as a large fire burned behind them. "There's like five or six trailers topped up on top of each other. It's a mess, it's terrible."

Saline County spokesman Gary Hunnicutt there were reports of damage the Hurricane Meadows subdivision in Benton, with another 20 homes damaged in the western part of Saline County.

A few miles northeast of Benton, the dashboard camera of a Bryant Police Department patrol car recorded an apparent tornado slashing through the parking lot of a car dealership. The swirling winds snap a wooden power pole as sparks and debris fill the air.Video Watch coverage of tornado »


The weather service tracked severe storms across central Arkansas into early Friday morning. Heavy rains prompted flash flood warnings in about 20 counties.

Several swift-water rescues were reported across the state as people became trapped in their vehicles by rising waters, Arkansas Emergency Management Department spokeswoman Renee Preslar said. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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