Tornado touches down in Tavares on Fourth of July, causing damage

Storm leaves trail of damage

By Adrienne Cutway - Web Editor

TAVARES, Fla. - A tornado ripped through Tavares on Wednesday afternoon, interrupting what would have been a Fourth of July hot dog eating contest and leaving a trail of damage in its wake.

The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF0 tornado damaged several buildings along a one-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 441. The damage extends roughly from the Lake County Transit Building southwest to the Fish Camp at Lake Eustis.

Ralph Smith, who works at Lake Tire & Auto on West Burleigh Boulevard, said the storm caused a dumpster to be blown onto U.S. 441 and tire racks to be knocked over.

He documented the damage around 3:30 p.m. on Facebook Live.

"Some little excitement on the Fourth of July, tornado in Tavares 2018. Nobody died, just a little bit of a mess, nothing you can't clean up in an hour or so," Smith said.

That damage was nothing compared to what happened next door at Fish Camp at Lake Eustis, where part of the roof caved in, sending water inside the restaurant.

A hot dog contest was supposed to be held when the storm hit, but only one person showed up and that person was given three free hot dogs.

The Tavares Fire Department said the tornado touched down behind a Winn Dixie on Burleigh Boulevard and caused a warehouse-type building to collapse.

No injuries were reported.

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