Tent collapse in Wood Dale kills 1, injures many others

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WOOD DALE, Ill. -- A burst of thunderstorm activity across the Chicago-area in mid-afternoon Sunday resulted in multiple injuries and a death at an event in west suburban Wood Dale, the collapse of a dome in northwest suburban Rosemont and the temporary evacuation of the music festival Lollapalooza in Grant Park downtown.

One person was killed, three people were seriously injured, and 17-20 more were taken to area hospitals when a tent collapsed at the Wood Dale Prairie Fest near Wood Dale Junior High, 656 N. Wood Dale Rd., according to Wood Dale Deputy Police Chief Mike Rivas.

Tracy Anderson, whose husband is a member of a band that was scheduled to perform there Sunday afternoon, said her husband witnessed the huge tent blow up in the air and land before tables and chairs began to fly.

"The tarp landed on several people, and rescuers started cutting holes to get them out," said Anderson, who said she saw at least six ambulances and eight fire trucks at the scene.

"I hope the survivors are going to be OK," said Anderson. "I'm so thankful my family wasn't injured, but it's a sad day."

The music festival evacuation was ordered about 3 p.m. as a storm cell coming from the west bore down on the city, pushing thousands of festival-goers out of Grant Park and onto the streets of downtown Chicago. Police and festival staff directed those people to pre-arranged shelters in garages around Grant Park.

The festival organizers said in a release that the gates would re-open about 3:30 p.m. with the music starting up again about 4 p.m.

The storm did not hit downtown that hard, but areas farther north in the city were not so lucky. Trees were blown down by the high winds that characterized these storms, blocking streets in the 6500 blocks of Bosworth, Greenview and Newgard Avenues in Rogers Park.

The dome in Rosemont, outside the field where the Chicago Bandits softball team plays, collapsed as the storm moved through that area, witnesses said. No injuries were reported.

The National Weather Service had issued severe thunderstorm warnings for areas north and west of Chicago earlier this afternoon.

One warning was issued until 3 p.m. for northern Cook County and northern DuPage County. That storm, moving east at 45 mph with 60 mph wind gusts and golf-ball sized hail, is expected to affect communities like Elgin, Schaumburg, Oak Park, Park Ridge and Evanston and O'Hare International Airport before moving out over Lake Michigan.

An earlier warning was in effect until 2:45 p.m. for east central DeKalb County, southern Kane County and western DuPage County, the agency said, with a storm featuring wind gusts up to 60 mp.h. and quarter-size hail moving east at 40 mph. Among the communities in its path were Aurora, Naperville, Lisle and Wheaton.

WGN-TV meteorologist Tom Skilling said that muggy, tropical air that settled around the area this afternoon will provide a favorable environment for storm development. The combination of an unstable atmosphere and strong jet stream winds moving in from the northwest will produce storms today that could have damaging winds and hail.

-- Chicago Tribune staff report.

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