5 tornadoes in Colorado, 1 damages mall in Aurora | AspenTimes.com

5 tornadoes in Colorado, 1 damages mall in Aurora

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

AURORA, Colo. – At least five tornadoes touched down in Colorado on Sunday, with one overturning benches and a car outside a mall in this Denver suburb.

One man was taken to a hospital with serious injuries suffered while he was trying to photograph the tornado outside a home near the mall, said Battalion Chief Mark Turley of the Aurora Fire Department. Turley said medical privacy laws kept him from releasing details.

Firefighters reported moderate damage and gas leaks at the Southlands Mall, which was forced to close.

The National Weather Service said the tornado that damaged the mall touched down south of Buckley Air Force Base just before 2 p.m. and may have been on the ground for about 30 minutes, taking an 8- to 10-mile path across southeast Aurora.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning units on the mall roof were damaged. Mall spokeswoman Joyce Rocha-Brown said damage was being assessed and no decision had been made on when the building might reopen.

Julie Patterson, 36, could see the tornado from the back deck of her house in Aurora.

“You could see the debris flying in the funnel cloud,” she said.

The other tornadoes were reported 6 miles east of Lafayette; one south of Bennett; one south of Deer Trail; and one north of Byers, the National Weather Service said.

Many spots in the Denver area also were pelted with hail as big as baseballs. The Weather Service received reports of hail as big as 3 inches in Arapahoe County, meteorologist Robert Koopmeiners said.

Xcel Energy said the storm blew down power lines, leaving about 3,000 customers in parts of Aurora and Centennial without power for about an hour and 40 minutes before service was restored.

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