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2 Killed As Destructive Tornadoes Rake Northern Illinois

A second Fairdale resident has been found dead in her home as the result of injuries she received when an overwhelming tornado swept through the tiny residential community Thursday night.

She was identified as Jacklyn K. Klosa, 69. At a a morning news conference Friday, DeKalb County Coroner Dennis Miller identified the first fatality as Geraldine M. Schultz, 67, also in her home. Her body was discovered by her family Thursday night.

Fairdale is in extreme northern DeKalb County, east of the intersection of I-39 and Highway 72.

Rockford Fire Department officials, who were assisting in the rescue efforts, reported when they arrived Thursday evening that most of the buildings in the town of 150 residents were damaged and roads were blocked off by debris. Plows had to be deployed so emergency workers could reach victims.

Kirkland fire chief Chad Connell says 17 homes were completely leveled in Fairdale. DeKalb Co. Sheriff Roger Scott says staff members are trying to locate residents who may have left town before the storm hit. He also says a stretch of Highway 72, where much of the damage occurred in Fairdale, is closed until further notice. Scott says it's the stretch of highway between west County Line to Irene Road.

Another Sheriff, Ogle County's Brian E. VanVickle, lost his Rochelle home in the storm.

Earlier in the tornado’s path, a popular Rochelle restaurant was destroyed. A dozen people were sheltered in the basement of Grubsteakers and emerged unharmed.  

The tornado first touched down around 6:35 in Ashton, then continued to move north for more than an hour, according to Northern Illinois University meteorologist Gilbert Sebenste. 

Emergency management and National Weather Service teams will survey the area Friday, assessing damage and the paths of at least two tornadoes. The largest started near Franklin Grove in Lee County, moved through Rochelle, crossed Interstate 39, hit the Fairdale area in far northwest DeKalb County, pushed into Boone County, and finally fizzled out near Harvard in McHenry County.

Another tornado was spotted near the Rockford Airport, then moved into Cherry Valley and Boone County. It reportedly caused heavy damage at the Summerfield Zoo south of Belvidere.

  • WNIJ's Katie Finlon contributed to this report