UPDATE: NWS Confirms Tornado Touched Down In Western NC

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- The National Weather Service says it was a tornado that damaged dozens of homes and injured at least 15 people in western North Carolina.

The weather service's forecast office in Greer, S.C., said Thursday that investigators confirmed the tornado with winds of around 115 miles an hour.

The storm system struck Rutherford and Burke counties Wednesday afternoon. At least 10 people were hurt in the Ellenboro community of Rutherford County, with five injures reported in Burke County.

Burke County Fire Marshal Mark Pitts says at least 16 homes were destroyed, and about 50 others damaged.

At least 15 people have been hurt in an apparent tornado that struck two counties in western North Carolina.

Meteorologist Neil Dixon with the National Weather Service in Greer, S.C., said the storms struck in Rutherford and then Burke counties late Tuesday afternoon.

Rutherford County sheriff's Sgt. Dwayne Wright said Wednesday morning that 10 people were injured in Ellenboro, two of them seriously. Wright did not know the extent of their injuries.

He says at least 10 buildings were damaged, but more details were expected Wednesday.

Dixon says five people were hurt when the storm struck in the Icard area in Burke County. He says officials initially estimated that 50 buildings had been damaged.

Forecasters planned to survey the area Wednesday to confirm the damage was caused by a tornado

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January is the last month you would expect to read about a possible tornado in North Carolina, but according the National Weather Service, parts of the state had to take cover from a potentially tornadic situation.

In Rutherford County trees were toppled, power lines were snapped and significant damaged was caused to a mobile home park. In Ellenboro, NC emergency personnel had to airlift three people from the scene for medical treatment and structural damage left a family trapped in their basement in eastern Burke County.

The easterly moving storm begin in Ellenboro, NC Wednesday evening and eventually moved through a mobile home park causing the greatest destruction.

There was no immediate word of fatalities.

A team from the National Weather Service will be on scene Thursday to determine if the damage was caused by a tornado.

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