Sheldon Armitage stands amidst the debris left by a twister that destroyed his garage and damaged his warehouse.

Sheldon Armitage stands amidst the debris left by a twister that destroyed his garage and damaged his warehouse.

Mini tornado tears up vehicle storage facility near Smithers

  • Jun. 2, 2011 3:00 p.m.

A small tornado ripped apart a compound on Lake Kathlyn Road on June 1, sending debris in all directions.

Sheldon Armitage’s compound, which includes a warehouse and parking garage which he rents out, was damaged. The garage in particular was heavily damaged, the walls and roof entirely blown off, leaving behind fragments of its shell.

“I’ve had the property for 10 years, I’ve got an active rental facility here for storing RVs,” said Armitage. “I’m just thankful that if we had this twister come through here three weeks ago there would have probably been a couple hundred thousand dollars worth of equipment that would have been damaged because people have their motor homes, fifth-wheels and everything else in here.”

When the twister went through shortly after 3:30 p.m., he only had two RVs and his Mercedes. He said 12×12 beams criss-crossed over the RVs causing just minor damage, and his own Mercedes was within an inch of meeting a beam itself.

“From what I was told by some other witnesses, a bus driver actually viewed the funnel cloud coming down the road here and literally picking everything up,” he said.

He needed a loader to come by from Nechako Northcoast to clear off a 100 foot section of the roof off of the roadway.

Tin sheets from the roof were also dangling from the powerlines when he arrived and it took three hours for the power to come back on.

“I thought it was a joke when I got a phone call at my employer saying that a mini-tornado basically destroyed my compound. I thought maybe a piece of tin had blown off the roof,” he said. “To come here and see it literally lifted 24 foot 8×8 cedars out of the ground and threw them across the road, it’s amazing the power behind it.”

He said over the past week there have been workers in his compound and that it is quite fortunate no one was around when the twister came down.

BC Hydro’s website confirms that 200 homes were without power from 3:36 to 5:44 p.m. in the area north of Nielson Road, southwest of Highway 16, due to a wind storm on June 1.

It also said that from 3:42 to 3:50 p.m., the 5700 block of Lake Kathlyn Road was without power affecting under five people. The cause is listed as “other.”