BEMIDJI, Minn. (AP/WCCO)Authorities in Bemidji are asking residents to travel only for emergencies after a severe thunderstorm caused widespread damage and knocked out most phone service in the city.

The National Weather Service in Grand Forks says a severe storm passed through the northwestern Minnesota city shortly after 7 p.m. Monday.

Meteorologist Pete Speicher says preliminary reports are sketchy, but says the storm caused “numerous and significant tree damage” and also knocked down many telephone lines. The tree damage is especially prevalent on Bemidji’s south side. Power lines are down on block after block.

Speicher says the storm produced straight-line winds of 70 to 80 miles per hour. Other communities in its path included Grand Rapids and Itasca. Numerous homes have been damaged, with several missing their roofs from the winds.

Police have put a curfew in place, calling for no unnecessary travel between 11 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.

There are no injuries reported at this time. The police chief stated that there is “a huge feat in front of us” regarding the coming cleanup effort.

The Bemidji Fire Department has requested help from neighboring departments.

(TM and © Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)


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