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One killed, around 20 injured after tornado hits Birmingham, Alabama, suburb

NBC News logo NBC News 1/26/2021 Kurt Chirbas and Kimberly Flores Gaynor and Phil Helsel and Wilson Wong
a train driving down the street © Provided by NBC News

One person was killed and more than a dozen others were injured when a tornado struck a northern suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, overnight, officials said early Tuesday.

Jefferson County Chief Deputy Coroner Bill Yates confirmed the fatality in the city of Fultondale in an email to NBC News. He did not release any other information.

Earlier, Fultondale fire Chief Justin McKenzie told NBC News that crews were "out and people still entrapped."

Jim Coker, the director of the Jefferson County Emergency Management Agency, estimated 20 people were injured.

Fultondale, a city of about 9,000, is in Jefferson County — the most "tornado-prone county" in Alabama, Coker said. The tornado ripped through Fultondale before moving toward nearby Center Point, he said.

Videos showed damaged roofs, collapsed walls, flipped vehicles and power lines stripped from the ground.

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The National Weather Service's Birmingham office said a damage assessment would be done to determine the strength of the tornado. The Weather Service tweeted around 10:45 p.m. local time that there was a confirmed tornado near Fultondale.

Severe destruction in the northeastern parts of the county prompted many schools to close Tuesday, NBC affiliate WVTM reported.

Video from WVTM showed what appeared to be extensive damage to a hotel, with pieces of the roof and the side of the building torn off.

A woman at the hotel told the station that the wind sounded "like a train." Debris from the building covered parked cars outside.

An official at the fire department in Tarrant, which is east of Fultondale, told NBC News there were many trees and power lines down.

Jefferson County emergency management officials urged people to take shelter during the storm and asked people to submit damage reports. Officials asked the public to stay away from Fultondale and Center Point.

The emergency management department was unable to immediately comment on the scope of the damage.

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"We are still very much in the response mode," Coker said in an email early Tuesday.

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