Group hid under fire engines as tornado destroyed Autryville fire station

AUTRYVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) — The tornado in Autryville Tuesday left a path of destruction.

UPDATE: Despite losing 3 trucks, fire station, Autryville FD ready to respond to calls


Trees were ripped from their roots. Power were lines down.

Late Tuesday night, weather officials said the tornado was an EF-1 with 105-110 mph winds, a path about 100 yards wide and damage in three areas.

But perhaps the biggest hit for the community is the volunteer fire department.

Jody Conrad, a firefighter, was outside when it came through.

“Within 10 seconds of us hitting the bay door, it hit the station and after that, it was on top of us probably a minute, minute and a half. That’s what it felt like anyway and then we come out and this is what was left,” Conrad said.

Conrad says he was with three other firefighters and three of their friends at the time. He said they hid under the fire trucks for protection.

“I was shocked. I wasn’t expecting it. I just thought it was just going to be like a high wind. It was just going to pass,” said Paige Stalnaker.

Stalnaker was among the group that hid under the fire trucks.


A falling wall scraped Stalnaker’s leg and something hit her head. Fortunately, she was OK.

The tornado ripped the roof right off part the fire department.

A cinder block wall was no match for the winds, which were up to 110 mph. Two of their fire engines and one fire truck are covered in rubble. Each vehicle is worth around $420,000.

Still, the small town of 200 people is grateful no one was killed.

“I was amazed by the quick response, first of all from the our own community, but then others have come in,” Stalnaker said.

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