Tornado destroys 50 homes in Louisiana

March 5, 2011 at 7:09 PM

RAYNE, La., March 5 (UPI) -- A tornado Saturday ripped a path an eighth of a mile wide through parts of Rayne, La., killing at least one person and destroying 50 homes, officials said.

Rayne Mayor Jimbo Petitjean said a 21-year-old woman died when a tree fell on her home, KATC-TV reported. The mayor said the woman, whose name was not released, was protecting her young daughter when she was fatally injured.

The Lafayette TV station said at least a dozen other people were injured and about 1,500 people in Rayne were evacuated.

A dozen businesses were also destroyed, and officials ordered evacuations due to a gas leak, The (Lafayette) Daily Advertiser reported.

"This damage is pretty significant," Rayne Fire Department Chief Barry Granger said. "As long as I can remember this is probably the worst tornado to hit the city."

The first report of a tornado came in at about 10:20 a.m. Center Point Energy was trying to close a gas leak coming from the damaged homes and businesses, the newspaper said.

Petitjean said a mandatory 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew was being actively enforced in the city's northwest neighborhoods, the newspaper said.

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