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5 tornadoes touch down in Colo.; mall damaged

Image:  A tornado is seen from Aurora, Colo.
A tornado is seen from Aurora, Colo. on Sunday. At least five tornadoes touched down in Colorado on Sunday.Julie Patterson / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

At least five tornadoes touched down in Colorado on Sunday, with one overturning benches and a car outside a mall in a Denver suburb and injuring a man who tried to take pictures of a twister.

The man was taken to a hospital with serious injuries, said Battalion Chief Mark Turley of the Aurora Fire Department. Turley said medical privacy laws kept him from releasing further details.

Firefighters reported moderate damage and gas leaks at the Southlands Mall, which was forced to close.

The National Weather Service said the tornado that damaged the mall touched down south of Buckley Air Force Base just before 2 p.m. and may have been on the ground for about 30 minutes, taking an 8- to 10-mile path across southeast Aurora.

Heating, ventilation and air conditioning units on the mall roof were damaged. Mall spokeswoman Joyce Rocha-Brown said damage was being assessed and no decision had been made on when the building might reopen.

Debris flying around
Julie Patterson, 36, could see the tornado from the back deck of her house in Aurora.

"You could see the debris flying in the funnel cloud," she said.

Many spots in the Denver area also were pelted with hail as big as baseballs. The Weather Service received reports of hail as big as 3 inches in Arapahoe County, meteorologist Robert Koopmeiners said.