Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida State Fair tent collapses, injuring 13

Emergency workers load an injured fairgoer into an ambulance after severe weather tore through the Florida State Fair on Friday.

STEPHEN J. CODDINGTON | Times

Emergency workers load an injured fairgoer into an ambulance after severe weather tore through the Florida State Fair on Friday.

TAMPA — Stinging rain pelted hundreds of students, sending them running for shelter during a Friday afternoon downpour on what was supposed to be their day to enjoy the Florida State Fair.

Wind roared through the huge Cox Food Corral tent — ripping the tethers and toppling the 50-foot-square structure and setting the scene for chaos.

People ran throughout the fairgrounds, some screaming, "Tornado!" as they scrambled for cover. Along with the large tent, the wind tipped over some tables and blew the cover off an ATM machine.

Katye Waddle, 15, huddled under the food tent with several people when what she described as a sudden huge gust blew over the structure. A pole knocked her in the head, but she said she was able to run away.

"There was a girl we passed and she was clutching her head and it was bleeding," said Waddle, a student at Blake High School.

Thirteen people were injured in the severe weather and were taken to St. Joseph's and Brandon Regional hospitals, said Battalion Chief Ernie Wargo of Hillsborough County Fire Rescue. Two of them had serious injuries, and the other 11 had minor injuries.

"Nothing was life-threatening," Wargo said. "There were no emergency transports or trauma alerts."

Fair officials said Cox's Food Corral will reopen today. Workers removed the damaged tent and erected a smaller one in its place about 5:30 p.m.

Aria Sitlin said she and her husband had taken their children to the fair on Friday because of the annual "Fair Day," where some Hillsborough County schools close to allows student to attend.

"It started to rain . . . then all of sudden there was a gust of rain that came through that tore the whole place apart," she said. People were "running for their lives. . . . It was surreal; I'm a little bit in shock."

Rides shut down during the battering rain, but almost all had reopened by 5 p.m. And the fair honored student coupons for Fair Day until closing time, even though they were supposed to expire at 5 p.m.

Nearby on Interstate 4, visibility dropped quickly at 3 p.m., and drivers pulled onto shoulders to let the gusting rains pass.

The storm hit the Tampa Bay area swiftly and powerfully.

About 2:30 p.m. Friday, rain and strong winds buffeted two homes on Michigan Avenue in St. Petersburg. The force uprooted a palm tree, damaged roof tiles and tore the screening behind one of the homes. The National Weather Service estimated the winds at 60 mph.

A tornado watch was issued earlier in the afternoon for the entire area and most of the state. The watch lasted through about 9 p.m.

People at MacDill Air Force Base spotted a water spout at 2:56 p.m., about four miles into the bay.

The showers and thunderstorms were the precursor to a cold front moving east, said Bay News 9 meteorologist Juli Marquez. Friday's rainy weather should give way to a dry weekend, though Marquez said it will be chillier than normal.

Florida State Fair tent collapses, injuring 13 02/05/10 [Last modified: Friday, February 5, 2010 11:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Roosevelt Blvd closed at I-275 after truck hauling crane hits overpass

    News

    ST. PETERSBURG — A truck transporting a construction crane hit the Interstate 275 overpass at Roosevelt Boulevard Tuesday.

  2. One Pasco County student arrested for bringing weapons to school, another for threatening shooting

    Crime

    Two Pasco County students from different schools were arrested Tuesday, one for having weapons on school grounds and the other for threatening a school shooting.

  3. It's official: Hillsborough high schools move to 8:30 a.m. start time, elementary schools to go earlier

    K12

    TAMPA — Hillsborough County high schools school will be in session from 8:30 a.m. to 3:25 p.m. starting in 2018-19, the School Board decided Tuesday in a 6-0 vote.

    The Hillsborough County School Board has decided to end a compressed bus schedule that caused an estimated 12,000 children to get to school late every day. Under the new schedule, high schools will start at 8:30 a.m. instead of 7:30 a.m. Elementary schools will start at 7:40 a.m. and middle schools at 9:25 a.m. [Times files]
  4. NFL players, owners hold 'constructive' talks on issues

    Bucs

    NEW YORK — NFL players and owners met Tuesday to discuss social issues, a session Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross called "constructive" and Colts defensive back Darius Butler termed "positive."

    A coalition of advocacy groups 'take a knee' outside of a hotel where members the quarterly NFL league meetings are being held on Tuesday in New York City.  Owners, players and commissioner Roger Goodell are all expected to attend. The activists spoke of having solidarity with athletes and coaches around the country who have also kneeled in protest of racial injustice, especially in policing.
 [Getty Images]
  5. The topic will be neighborhoods as Kriseman, Baker debate one more time

    Elections

    ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, in a candidate forum on Wednesday hosted by the influential Council of Neighborhood Associations.

    St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, left, and former Mayor Rick Baker during a September forum. The two will will face off, possibly for the last time before the Nov. 7 election, during  a candidate forum at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sunshine Center, 330 5th St. N. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]