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Firefighter Killed In Blomkest During 2nd Night Of Dangerous Storms

Originally published on May 12

MURDOCK, Minn. (WCCO) -- A second night of dangerous weather has turned deadly.

The National Weather Service says a grain bin fell on a car just before 7 p.m. Thursday in Kandiyohi County, killing a passenger inside.

INX AERIALS Storm Damage Alexandria Blomkest Lowry 051322_12-01-56,15
(credit: CBS)

According to the Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office, the victim, 63-year-old Ryan Erickson, of rural Lake Lillian, was a volunteer firefighter on storm watch on his own property at the time of the incident. It's believed to be a line of duty death.

Ryan Erickson
(credit: CBS)

A possible tornado also touched down two hours north of there in Pillager. Around that time, strong storms blew into towns like Murdock near Willmar. A WCCO crew were in Willmar when, at 6:30 p.m., they witnessed a line of wind roar through and topple several trees.

Winds also blew semis off the road in Alexandria. Parts of eastbound Interstate 94 are blocked late Thursday night while crews work to help the drivers.

Those storms then marched across the state to St. Cloud, whipping the rain sideways on the highway. The wind got so bad near our South Dakota border, it kicked up giant dust clouds, making travel difficult.

Storm Clouds in Western Minnesota
(credit: Lindsay Van Meeteren)

The worst damage WCCO crews have seen so far Thursday night hit towns and farms in western Minnesota.

In Alberta, just west of Morris, Nick and Amanda Elms say the wind toppled 70-foot-tall grain silos, turning them into piles of rubble.

WCCO heard about damage in Murdock, and along the way our crew saw a few train cars turned on their sides, derailed by the wind.

In Murdock, a seed barn was hit hard. The family of six hunkered in the basement as the storms swept through, while the dad Jesse Olson watched the roof fly off and the walls crumple at the hands of those strong winds.

"It hit. As soon as I ran inside I looked over my shoulder. The roof and everything start folding over and everything else in the yard's getting destroyed and ran downstairs. By the time I got downstairs it was pretty much done, so I came back up and saw all this disaster," Olson said.

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