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Tornado hits famed flea market in Canton, causes damage

FORT WORTH -- The First Monday Trade Days in Canton was hammered by a tornado Friday morning, and two people were hurt, but the popular flea market was still open for business, according to reports.

The tornado was one of a couple twisters reported around 9 a.m. in Van Zandt and Smith counties.

They appeared to be small on weather radar, but the one in Van Zandt County was destructive, according to the National Weather Service.

Joe Harris, a meteorologist with the agency's office in Fort Worth, said that officials in Van Zandt County reported an overturned car and minor injuries around Canton. The city is about 50 miles east of Dallas.

The tornadoes developed as a cold front pushed east across North Texas and on into East Texas, Harris said.

"Thunderstorms fired up along it," Harris said, "and as it got to Canton one those storms decided to be the bad boy and got wrapped up. A tornado popped out of it."

Another small tornado "signature" showed up on radar near Lindale, about 30 miles to the east in Smith County, Harris said.

However, no significant damage other than same fallen tree limbs were reported in the area, said Jim Seaton, Smith County emergency management coordinator.

The system, however, also stretched into Arkansas where the death toll was at seven Friday afternoon, according to The Associated Press.

Officials with the American Red Cross were headed to East Texas to assess the damage and offer help, said Anita Foster, spokeswoman for the agency.

First Monday Trade Days is a popular flea market in the region, with up to 7,000 vendors.

Julie Seymore, Canton city secretary, said the damage was mostly to trees and vehicles in parking lots. One of the injured people was in a van that was hit by a fallen tree, Seymore said.

The line of thunderstorms, Seymore said, passed through Canton at about 8:14 a.m.

A tornado touched down in a First Monday Trade Days parking lot on the southwest side where two people were trapped in a van by a fallen tree and downed power line, Seymore said. They were freed without injuries.

Another unoccupied vehicle also had to be freed from that debris. One recreational vehicle near that site was turned on its side with a woman inside. She was shaken up but did not appear to be seriously injured, Seymore said.

The earlier reported overturned vehicle on Highway 19 was not a result of the storm and the driver did not require transport to a hospital, Seymore said.

But the storm did flip another vehicle on Interstate 20, Seymore said. The single occupant was transported to the hospital with minor injuries. Two other people were transported to area hospitals with chest pains, Seymore said.