NEW INFORMATION: Chetek tornado victim's name released - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

NEW INFORMATION: Chetek tornado victim's name released

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Barron County (WQOW) - Authorities have released the name of the person who died in Tuesday's tornado.

Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, with the Barron County Sheriff's Department, confirmed Wednesday morning the person who died was 46-year-old Eric Gavin. Authorities said Gavin lived in the Prairie Lake Estate mobile park between Chetek and Cameron.They believe he was alone in his trailer at the time of the storm.

The tornado struck the Prairie Lake Estates mobile home park Tuesday night, destroying 40 trailer homes. Authorities told News 18 the mobile home park did not have a designated shelter.

Sheriff Fitzgerald said sirens were sounded in Chetek 25 minutes before the storm hit the mobile home park, but he does not know if park residents could hear them from that distance. Another 25 people were injured. 17 people were taken to local hospitals with injuries, others were treated at the scene.

Sheriff Fitzgerald said all of the residents of that park have now been accounted for.

A team from the National Weather Service is expected to arrive in Chetek Wednesday morning to assess the damage and make a final determination on the severity of the tornado.

RELATED LINK: Officials assessing damage, recovery efforts underway in Barron, Rusk counties

RELATED LINK: VIDEO -- Helicopter of tornado damage in Barron County

RELATED LINK: VIDEO -- Storm clean-up under way in Conrath

RELATED LINK: Jennie-O turkey farm damaged in Tuesday's tornado

RELATED LINK: Barron, Rice Lake hospitals treat several people injured in severe storm, tornado


Posted May 17, 2017 (9:00 a.m.): 

Barron County (WQOW) - The Barron County sheriff said an overnight search and rescue mission at a Chetek trailer park, devastated by a tornado, has found no further victims.

The tornado struck the Prairie Lake Estates Mobile Home Park around dinner time Tuesday night, destroying 50 to 60 trailers. As previously reported, one person was killed there, a 46-year-old man, according to the sheriff.  Another 25 people were injured.  17 people were taken to local hospitals with injuries, others were treated at the scene.

Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald said all of the residents of that park have now been accounted for. 

A team from the National Weather Service is expected to arrive in Chetek Wednesday morning to assess the damage and make a final determination on the severity of the tornado.

There are also reports of substantial property damage in Conrath.

The Rusk County sheriff told News 18 a tornado touched the ground in the Highway 8/County Highway W area in the Township of Strickland. Sheriff Jeffery Wallace said the tornado traveled east through Rusk County, touching down several places, including Lake Amacoy and Conrath areas, which sustained the most damage.

Sheriff Wallace said heavy damage occurred to public and private properties, including homes and rural farms. He said many power lines were down and crews are on site to restore electricity and clear blocked roadways.

Sheriff Wallace said anyone who is offering assistance in Rusk County should call the Rusk County Sheriff's Office at 715-532-2189.


Posted May 16, 2017 (10:06 p.m.):

Barron (WQOW) - The worst of the damage is centered around the Prairie Lake Estates trailer park on County SS, located between Chetek and Cameron in Barron County.

The Barron County Sheriff told News 18 one person died and at least 25 are injured. According to the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs, about 40 trailer homes were destroyed by the tornado. A nearby turkey farm was also destroyed.

Officials are still working Tuesday night, going home to home searching for anyone who might be missing or trapped.

News 18 spoke with the mayor of Chetek, Jeff Martin, who told News 18 “the people who live in that trailer park – their whole world got turned upside down”.

Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald told News 18 Tuesday night that at one point, every officer with the Barron County Sheriff's Department was in the area, helping and looking for people who may be injured. The size of that search has been scaled back, but it still continues at this hour because the sheriff said there are people who live in Prairie Lake Estates trailer court who are unaccounted for.

Emergency crews have marked every trailer that has been searched, and now, they're going back again stopping, listening and then physically lifting the debris and searching for anyone who might be trapped.

Sheriff Fitzgerald said the lone fatality was in the Prairie Lake Estates trailer park. And he said, to his knowledge, no injures have been reported outside of the trailer park area.

“We pulled several walls off of people. We've carried babies out. We've carried elderly. We've been contacted by several people that want to help. But at this time, we're just searching the area with the search teams and making sure there's no one injured, and then we'll assess the damage and work with the NWS and all that other stuff that goes beyond saving and rescuing people,” Sheriff Fitzgerald said.

He said every single trailer here is damaged to some degree, and as of Tuesday night, no one is being allowed back in to area. The power and gas have been shut off as a precaution.

If you need help in the Chetek - Cameron area, or if you are looking for a loved one, head to Mosaic Telecom in Cameron. The Red Cross is there to assist.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs, the National Weather Service will send Damage Survey Teams to the area on Wednesday morning to assess the locations, strengths and numbers of tornadoes. Parts of northwestern Wisconsin are expected to receive heavy rain Wednesday. Flood Warnings and Flood Watches have been issued for parts of the area.


Posted on May 16, 2017 (7:27 p.m.):

Barron (WQOW) - Several people are injured in the Barron County area, including one person who has died, according to Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald

News 18 spoke with Sheriff Fitzgerald on Tuesday night. He confirmed there is one fatality and at least 25 people who are injured. Sheriff Fitzgerald said the severe damage is between Chetek and Cameron on Highway SS.

He said most of the damage is concentrated at Prairie Lake Estates, located in between Chetek and Cameron, as well as some turkey barns. Sheriff Fitzgerald said emergency crews are doing a second search of the buildings right now.

This is a developing situation. Stay with News 18 on-air and online for the latest details. 


Posted on May 16, 2017:

Barron (WQOW) - News 18 spoke with Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald, who said there is severe damage and several people injured in an area between Cameron and Chetek.

News 18 received several pictures of tornado in the Barron area.

Stay with News 18 on-air and online for the latest weather updates and information.

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