Tornado tears through heart of Alabama; 1 dead, several critically injured

Published 6:20 am Tuesday, January 26, 2021

One person is dead after a tornado tore through an Alabama city north of Birmingham Monday night, leaving the area with crumpled buildings and downed trees.

Fultondale Police Chief D.P. Smith said a young man trapped in the basement of his home was pronounced dead at the scene around 3 a.m. Tuesday, reported.

Smith said a tree fell onto the victim’s home, causing it to collapse. The victim and his family took shelter in the basement and were trapped inside, Smith said.

The victim is believed to be a teen. Smith said several other family members were critically injured and one escaped harm.

At least a half dozen people have been hospitalized since the tornado hit the Fultondale area of Jefferson County late Monday night.

Injuries range from minor to severe but search and rescue efforts are still ongoing, said James Coker, the director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency.

“Our current goal is always life safety,” Coker said. “That is not only for the people who may have been injured but also the first responders who assist them.”

Coker said Interstate 65 near Walker Chapel Road is closed due to downed power lines and debris. He also said workers are currently removing obstacles from the roadways.

Several residential homes and buildings were damaged in the storm, including a Hampton Inn hotel, which sustained significant structural damage.

Coker said residents are being urged to remain alert and stay out of the area to allow first responders to continue operations.

The damage is being evaluated to determine the strength of the tornado, the National Weather Service in Birmingham said.

A tornado watch has been lifted in Jefferson County but nearby areas including Clanton and western Georgia are still being monitored.