- Associated Press - Thursday, June 5, 2014

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Two people were killed by falling trees in northeast Arkansas on Thursday as a storm system ripped through the area, damaging homes and businesses and causing widespread power outages.

Damage spanned the northeastern third of the state and was severe enough at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro that the school called off Friday classes.

One person died in Jonesboro when a tree fell on his home, Craighead County Coroner Toby Emerson said. The victim was Tom Sanford, 74, a retired Jonesboro police officer, he said.

Northwest of Jonesboro, a person was killed when a tree fell on a van in the town of Black Rock in Lawrence County, Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman Brandon Morris said. Several people were inside the vehicle, he said.

The name of that victim had not been released.

Morris said there was widespread damage in Craighead, Jackson, Lawrence, Mississippi and Poinsett counties. Wind and felled trees damaged roofs and pulled down power lines, leading to thousands of power outages.

At the border between Craighead and Poinsett counties, wind blew a freight train on a Union Pacific line off the tracks. The cargo blocked U.S. 49, which runs parallel to the railroad in that area.

Arkansas State Police spokesman Bill Sadler said no one was injured and no hazardous cargo was involved in the accident.

“Right now the issue is the cargo boxes that are causing the problem, those that have spilled out across the highway,” Sadler said.

About 30 cargo boxes fell from the train and have to be moved before the road could reopen.

Also, Sadler said about a half-dozen tractor-trailer rigs blew over in the region. Two of the big rig accidents were near Trumann and four were in the Jonesboro area.



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