Several people injured, 'catastrophic' damage after tornado hits Barrie

barrie, on tornardo

Police say several people have been hurt in a tornado that caused ``catastrophic'' damage in Barrie, Ont., this afternoon.

Barrie police spokesman Peter Leon says paramedics are providing first aid to those injured.

He says some homes have sustained major damage, and there have been power outages and damage to some gas lines.

Leon is urging people to stay away from the area.

Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, says images and video posted to social media -- which show heavy damage to buildings in the city's south end -- have helped confirm the storm was indeed a tornado.

He says the tornado touched down around 2:30 p.m. today, minutes after Environment Canada upgraded its tornado watch for the area to a warning.

People in Barrie have shared photos and videos of the destruction in the aftermath of the tornado, showing homes with their roofs partially torn off, overturned vehicles and debris littering the streets in parts of the city north of Toronto.