Man lucky to be alive after tornado levels Tonopah home


by Catherine Holland

Posted on July 30, 2010 at 9:24 AM

Updated Friday, Jul 30 at 7:32 PM

TONOPAH, Ariz. -- A Tonopah man is lucky to be alive after a massive storm ripped his home apart, leaving behind only the front porch.

Friday afternoon the National Weather Service confirmed it was a short lived tornado that touched down in the area.

It happened in the area of 335th Avenue and Lower Buckeye Road, not far from Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station.

A neighbor said it sounded like a freight train when the winds came through, lifting the portable house off its foundation and throwing it about 20 feet.

Gabriele Fildes said the wind was so strong she had to hold the door of her home shut. "Had I let go, I don't know what would have happened," she said.

When she looked out her window a short time later, she saw that her neighbor's house was gone. A massive pile of debris, including appliances, smashed wood and destroyed car, is all that's left. The catastrophic damage was similar to what's often seen in the Midwest  when a tornado touches down.

Fildes said she saw her neighbor and brought him inside while others called the fire department.

"I could not believe this house ... look at it now," Fildes said. "I thought, 'This cannot be a monsoon.' It was bad."

The man was taken to the hospital. He reportedly suffered only minor injuries and is expected to recover.

While Fildes' home was not damaged, two neighboring homes were.

Not far away, at least one other home and a supply facility for a women's shelter also were destroyed.

No other injuries were reported.

According to the NWS the tornado was classified an EF-1 meaning winds were between 86 and 110 miles per hour.

In addition to the high winds there was also quarter-sized hail.