FORRESTON, Texas — The National Weather Service said Tuesday that an EF2 tornado capable of producing winds up to 120 mph was to blame for frantic and chaotic moments WFAA witnessed on I-35E Monday night in Forreston.
Around 9 p.m., the tornado danced across the highway and flipped over three semi-trucks. It also pushed the dividing median into northbound lanes.
Three drivers of those trucks were stuck in their cabs and needed to be rescued.
Forreston is a small town with a population of less than 500. It has a volunteer fire department, but that's not enough to manage a spectacular crash that ended up shutting down the highway.
Calls for mutual aid started to go out, and a lot of first responders showed up.
One agency was the Red Oak Fire Department. "Ellis County called us last night, and they needed some help down there in Forreston," said Red Oak Fire Chief Ben Blanton.
"The sheer strength it takes to blow those 18-wheelers over, that's just impressive for mother nature."
One of the drivers was pulled out of his cab by those who got to the scene early, like storm chaser Victor Flores.
"I immediately knew that we had to help," Flores said. "We tried everything we could to get them out."
But two other drivers needed to be extricated out of their cabs. Chief Blanton said his department brought heavy machinery to the scene to cut and assist.
"They get on scene, and their first question is, 'What is the fastest and safest way to cut into this vehicle?'" said Blanton.
Over the hour, firefighters with Red Oak working alongside others at the scene extricated the two drivers who were rushed to the hospital.
Officials from Ellis County said one of the drivers remains hospitalized with serious injuries.
The other agencies that responded underscore just how much Texans were willing to help one another while battling the elements.
WFAA saw troopers from the Texas Department of Public Safety, crews with Forreston Volunteer Fire Department, Ellis County Emergency Services District 6, Ellis County EMS, officers with Italy Police Department, the Ellis County Sheriff's Office, and the Red Oak Police Department working at the scene.
The Ellis County Sheriff's Office additionally thanked the Lancaster Police Department, Waxahachie Police Department, Milford Police Department, the Ellis County Fire Marshal's Office, Italy Fire Department, and the Lancaster Fire Department for responding to calls across the county Monday night.
Blanton said it's miraculous that no one was killed but is proud of his department for answering the call.
"We were able to get down there and help our neighbors to the south of us. It was a win-win for everyone," said Blanton.