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‘All hands on deck’ for firefighters who responded to tornado

Several gas leaks, downed power lines and a fire did not deter firefighters in Woodridge where a tornado cut through about a week ago.

It all started at approximately 11:15 p.m. June 20 when officials said that a notification was dispatched from DU-COMM to authorities for the Darien-Woodridge Fire Protection District along with the Lisle-Woodridge, Downers Grove, Tri-State, Hinsdale, Westchester, West Chicago, Wheaton, Glen Ellyn, Warrenville and Westmont fire departments/districts.

The scene near Woodridge Drive and Jonquil Lane in Woodridge was described by first responders as having sustained “significant damage”. Authorities found large trees in the parkways and on houses, downed power lines, several gas leaks and a fire.

Darien-Woodridge Fire Protection District Chief Steven Gorsky said he’s not seen a tornado of “this magnitude” touch down in the community. The last time a tornado cut through the area, he said, was likely 20 or 30 years ago.

Lisle-Woodridge Fire Protection District Chief Keith Krestan said the notifications his department received did not prepare firefighters for what they’d find on scene.

“It wasn’t until the first companies got on scene for the first call that they realized a tornado had gone through,” Krestan said.

He added that the damage imposed in the wake of the tornado is, by far, the worst weather event of which he’s aware.

“This was much more large spread in a much larger area,” he said.

It was all on hands on deck for the emergency crews dispatched to the area, officials said.

“We had people that were off duty that came in,” Gorsky said. “I came in as well as another battalion chief and other firemen.”

Gorsky believes the fire protection district and the neighboring fire departments were prepared to deal with the situation.

“We had some of our companies that were responding to emergencies east of I-355,” he said. “We had damage in some of the residences in neighborhoods there. So, they were able to respond to that. We also assisted with search-and-rescue operations, as well, as a structure fire west of I-355.”

Authorities reported that three patients were transported to local hospitals for treatment. Gorsky said no further information is available about the extent of injuries. No firefighter injuries were reported, officials said.

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