Church Damaged, Children Injured in Possible Tennessee Tornado

Authorities say high winds, possibly from a tornado, damaged a church in Marion County Wednesday night and caused minor injuries to three children.

The Tennessee Highway Patrol and residents reported seeing a tornado touch down in the area at 7:20 p.m. about 25 miles west of Chattanooga.

Six other people in other parts of the town also suffered injuries, but no one appeared to be seriously hurt.

Jeremy Heidt of the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency said emergency workers in the county reported the injuries after the roof at Kimball Baptist Church was heavily damaged on Highway 41.

He said the children suffered injuries from flying glass and were taken to hospitals for treatment.

Many churches have worship services on Wednesday nights.

Power was out to much of the town after the storm.

Justin Lawhorne, manager of Wendy's restaurant in Kimball, said a tornado touched down about an eighth of a mile from his restaurant.

"I couldn't get the door open because the outside pressure and wind was so strong," he said, adding that there wasn't any damage to his store.

Tony Visco, a Lowe's manager in the town, said there were high winds around 7 p.m.

"The winds came across my front parking lot and knocked over some sheds, but that was about it," he said. "The building was completely intact."

Heidt said City Hall across the street from the church had minor damage, and an ambulance business next to it had heavy damage.

The THP reported at least four accidents on Interstate 24 during the storm, and Heidt said both directions of the freeway were shut down for some two hours. One of the vehicles involved was a tractor trailer carrying 1,000 pounds of toy cap gun powder.

"Since there's no fire, it's not terribly volatile," Heidt said.

A house in Marion County collapsed during the storm but the residents went to the hospital themselves.

Witnesses said the worst of the storm lasted only about 20 seconds.

The county was under a tornado warning at the time.

Marion County schools will be closed Thursday because of the storm.

Exit 152 on I-24 remained closed late Thursday night to keep traffic out of Kimball.

Nearby Grundy County sent three ambulances and two officers to Marion County to help out.