Tornado rips through Cameron, Illinois

Tornado Damage Kholby Martin Photos. Cameron, IL Photo credit: Twitter/StormChaser220 (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

NBC Chicago – A tornado hit the small, rural Illinois town of Cameron just before dusk on Thursday, causing extensive damage but no significant injuries, state police said.

Search and rescue operations were continuing through the night in the town of about 600 people that's roughly 200 miles southwest of Chicago. No one except first responders was being allowed into the town.

"The tornado caused significant damage to the town," including numerous power lines down and several gas leaks, Illinois State Police said in a statement.

Tornado Damage Kholby Martin Photos. Cameron, IL Photo credit: Twitter/StormChaser220 Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/local/Tornado-Touches-Down-in-Cameron-Illinois-316078661.html#ixzz3g8paBSKh Follow us: @nbcchicago on Twitter |...

The tornado touched down around 7:30 p.m. as a line of storms swept through an area stretching from Galesburg in western Illinois to the western suburbs of Chicago.

Cameron resident Mike Trout, 50, took refuge in his basement during the twister and said all he could hear was the roaring and windows breaking. Every window in his house was shattered and a 2-by-6-inch piece of lumber pierced through a wall of his home.

"I lived in this town in 1989 when the last tornado touched down," he told the Galesburg Register-Mail. "The damage this time is far, far worse; 1989 doesn't even compare to this."

Local electric utility Ameren Illinois said thousands of customers in the area were without power. A temporary shelter was set up at United High School near the town of Monmouth.

National Weather Service meteorologist Andy Ervin said survey teams would be dispatched at first light Friday morning to determine extent of the damage and the strength of the tornado.

Photographs of the area showed damage to a grain silo and heavy damage to at least one house.