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Onlookers Capture Deadly Illinois Tornado Ravaging 20-Mile Path

Cleanup Could Last Months After Tornado Destroys Illinois Town 3:19

The half-mile wide tornado that ripped through central Illinois Thursday left a trail of destruction spanning nearly 20 miles before culminating in a small town, where two people were killed and nearly every structure was damaged.

The National Weather Service said at least two other tornadoes hit the area Thursday, but the most destructive was a "single long track" EF4 tornado that carried winds up to 280 mph across a half-mile wide path, starting at about 6:40 p.m. (7:40 p.m. ET) in the village of Ashton.

Here's how those in the storm's path tracked the deadly tornado as it swept through.

Ashton

Rochelle

At least four homes and a restaurant were flattened in Rochelle, where the tornado crossed over Interstate 39 at 7 p.m. (8 p.m. ET).

Ogle County

The tornado then approached Ogle County, where thirty of fifty damaged houses were completely destroyed, including the home of Sheriff Brian Van Vickle, he said during a news conference Friday.

Dan Isaacson went to a friend's home in the county's ravaged town of Lindenwood Friday and decided to put a drone in the air with a camera to get an aerial view of the devastation. "I went to a friend's house to help them clean up, and we realized we were in an evacuation zone and the footage would be unique. So I took the drone out and started filming," Isaacson told NBC News.

Drone Captures Devastation of Illinois Twister 3:37

Fairdale

Nearly twenty miles away from where the tornado first hit, it descended on Fairdale, where two women were killed, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said Friday.

"We’ve obviously suffered a severe tragedy here," Rauner said. Mike Bardou, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said tornadoes in Illinois matching the size and voracity of Thursday's are "unusual" and EF4 tornadoes only hit the area about once every six years.

— Elisha Fieldstadt and Emmanuelle Saliba