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Denver area tornado damage forces mall closure as cleanup begins

The Aurora tornado as seen from E470 & Quincy. Image courtesy Laurel Bloom.
The Aurora tornado as seen from E470 & Quincy. Image courtesy Laurel Bloom.
Denver / Aurora Colorado Tornado
The Denver suburb of Aurora was struck with what
appears to be an EF1 tornado on Sunday.  Image
courtesy Sean Strachan.  More images in our
slideshow below

Damage from the tornadoes that struck the Denver metro area Sunday will force an area mall to remain closed while repairs are made.  Southlands Shopping Center spokeswoman Joyce Rocha-Brown told the Associated Press that most of the Aurora mall will remain closed on Monday while damage is assessed. 

The twister which struck the mall was on the ground for almost 30 minutes and carved a path of damage 8 to 10 miles long across southeast Aurora.  Shopping carts were thrown like child’s toys, cars were spun around including one which was flipped onto its roof, and heating and air conditioning units on top of the mall were knocked down. 

Glass storefronts in the mall were shattered forcing a police lockdown of the mall area to prevent looting.  Damage estimates have not been issued yet but are expected to easily reach into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Area emergency officials reported that no one at the mall was injured.  One man in the surrounding area suffered a broken collarbone when he was videotaping the tornado from his front porch and was thrown into a wall by the severe winds. 

The National Weather Service will be on site today to evaluate the damage and determine the rating of the storm.  Initial estimates have placed the storm as an EF-1 with winds from 86 to 110mph.  Click here to view more about the Enhanced Fujita Scale.

The twister was one of five in Colorado Sunday and the second to strike the Denver area.  The first was reported near I-25 and 144th Ave near the Orchard Town Center shopping mall at 1:15pm.  National Weather Service storm spotters said the twister was the ground for 10 minutes and appears to have hit an open area and no damage has been reported.

Tornadoes were also reported five miles south of Bennett, five miles south of Deer Trail and one three miles north of Byers.  Those three appear to have struck in open areas and not caused any damage.

View Denver area tornado activity - June 7, 2009 in a larger map