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Twister levels WI town

BY SUSAN KIM | SIREN, WI | June 19, 2001

Tragedy darkened the town

of Siren when a twister struck the week before its

warning siren was to be repaired.

A tornado ripped this northwest Wisconsin town of 850

people late Monday. Three people died, 14 were injured,

and an eight-square-block area was leveled, said Mike

Callen, spokesperson for Wisconsin emergency management.

The town's siren reportedly had been disabled since

April, when it was struck by lightning. It was scheduled

for repair next week.

The twister struck a residential and business area in

the center of town, said Callen, and it cut a quarter-

mile swath. Emergency response crews early Tuesday were

clearing roads and checking for more injuries. Phone

lines were overloaded in the town, said Callen, making

it difficult for emergency response representatives to

call in or out. Road access had been blocked for all but

emergency officials and local residents.

Preliminary reports from local officials indicated about

100 homes and business were destroyed or damaged, and

only four businesses out of about 15 on Main Street had


The Salvation Army and American Red Cross set up a

shelter at the Siren High School. "I'm sure churches

will respond as well," said Callen. A donations

collection center has been established in the Burnett

County Highway Department garage. Siren is the county


Peggy Johnson of Grace Baptist Church in the nearby town

of Grantsburg said local pastors had traveled to Siren

to help people in need. "Our pastor went to check on an

elderly man who needs help clearing trees and debris,"

she said, agreeing with Callen that phone communication

had been difficult.

"I know loved ones are calling and they're frantic," she


Siren is about 65 miles northeast of St. Paul, MN. The

tornado was spawned from a large storm that swept

through Minnesota and Wisconsin.

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