Tornadoes derail train, smash homes in N. Arizona - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Tornadoes derail train, smash homes in N. Arizona

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A truck rests upside down in a Bellemont, Ariz., driveway after a tornado swept through the small community west of Flagstaff on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca) A truck rests upside down in a Bellemont, Ariz., driveway after a tornado swept through the small community west of Flagstaff on Wednesday, Oct. 6, 2010. (AP Photo/Felicia Fonseca)

BELLEMONT, Ariz. (AP) — Two tornadoes touched down in northern Arizona early Wednesday, derailing 28 cars of a parked freight train, blowing semis off the highway and smashing out the windows of dozens of homes.

The first tornado hit Bellemont — west of Flagstaff — around 5:30 a.m. Wednesday and the second touched down east of the small community a short time later.

Fifteen homes in Bellemont were so badly damaged that they were uninhabitable and the estimated 30 people who lived in them were evacuated. Authorities were setting up a shelter at midmorning Wednesday, said Coconino County Sheriff's Office spokesman Gerry Blair

About 30 RVs were damaged at a business in Bellemont that sells the vehicles and runs a camp ground for RVs.

No serious injuries or deaths were reported. Two crew members were on the train when it was cast off the tracks around 6:30 a.m. PDT, said Burlington Northern-Santa Fe spokeswoman Lena Kent, but neither was hurt.

The train was hauling cargo from ports in Los Angeles to the east and contained no hazardous materials. The derailed cars are blocking both main rail lines through the area, and the railroad expects to reopen one of the lines by midnight.

In the Baderville area, authorities had to pull a family out of a home where they had been trapped because of damage from the tornado. It wasn't known whether anyone was trapped in homes in the Bellemont area, which is located 15 to 20 miles west of Flagstaff.

Severe weather is expected to continue through Wednesday, and comes a day after storms swept across the western U.S., dropping record-setting rain in northern Nevada, pounding Phoenix with hail, and dumping enough snow at the top of the Sierra to close a mountain highway pass.

The storm causing the severe weather was parked in coastal southern California and was expected to weaken throughout Wednesday as it drifts northward, arriving in northern Nevada around noon Thursday.

Still, much of central and northern Arizona will remain under a tornado watch, meaning tornadoes are possible, until 5 p.m. Wednesday. The National Weather Service said Reno, Nev., and Sacramento, Calif., should see thunderstorms throughout the day.

Rainy weather snarled freeways and caused power outages in Southern California, and the National Weather Service said a storm could dump up to inch of rain in some areas before tapering off Thursday.

A big-rig that jackknifed on a slick freeway Wednesday morning backed up traffic for miles through the Newhall Pass on Interstate 5, the main road between downtown Los Angeles and the bedroom communities of the Santa Clarita Valley. No injuries are reported.

Southern California Edison says rain shorted out an insulator, leaving 1,200 customers without power in Long Beach.

In Nevada, a semi skidded into the motorcycle of the Swiss rock band Gotthard's frontman, Steve Lee, killing him.

Two southern Utah teenagers were in critical condition at a Las Vegas hospital Wednesday after being struck by lightning outside their school a day earlier. Christopher Dane Zdunich and Alex Lambson, both 17, suffered burns and internal and external injuries when a bolt of lightning hit a tree they were standing under during a thunderstorm shortly before 3 p.m. Tuesday. They are students at Snow Canyon High School in Santa Clara, near St. George.


Contributing to this report were Associated Press Writers Jacques Billeaud, Mark Carlson and Bob Christie in Phoenix and Ken Ritter in Las Vegas.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.

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