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1 dead, steeple falls as tornadoes hit La., Ark.

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Lightning strikes as a line of cars creeps down a road in Bossier City, La., after storms hit the northwest of the state. Traffic was backed up due to a fire and storm damage in the area. Jim Hudelson / AP
/ Source: msnbc.com staff and news service reports

One man is dead and a landmark church steeple toppled onto a car in Louisiana after a line of thunderstorms spawned several tornadoes there and in neighboring Arkansas.

Authorities said an unnamed 20-year-old driver died when his car hit a tree felled by the storms Thursday near Shreveport.

At least three tornadoes touched down in northwest Louisiana.

The storms blew the signature steeple off a church in downtown Shreveport. The falling tower hit a car and the 57-year-old driver, Michael Williams, had to be pulled out by rescuers. He suffered broken bones.

The storms brought heavy rain and at least two tornadoes in Arkansas, but there were no reports of injuries in that state. Roads were flooded in parts of southwest Arkansas.

Power outages
Thousands were without power in Louisiana early Friday, The Shreveport Times reported on its Web site.

Shreveport Police Chief Henry Whitehorn told the Shreveport Times that damage appeared to be widespread, with power lines down in several parts of the city.

Mike Berry, a forecaster with the National Weather Service, said the severe line of thunderstorms brought between 3 and 6 inches of rain in the area. Berry confirmed at least three twisters.

"We are looking at extensive damage throughout our service area," the newspaper quoted Kacee Kirschvink, a spokeswoman for utility company AEP-SWEPCO as saying.

Power lines downed
The company reported 19,737 of its customers without power at the height of the storm, The Shreveport Times said, adding that a fresh round of storms felled more power lines and caused fresh outages later on Thursday.

The American Red Cross set up a shelter in the gym at Platt Elementary School in Haughton.

Tornado warnings forced authorities to cancel events at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds.

In Arkansas, the National Weather Service confirmed a twister at East Camden on Thursday afternoon.

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