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Belvidere's Apollo Theater Condemned After Roof Collapses, Killing 1 and Injuring 40 Others

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Boone County and Belvidere officials provided an update Saturday morning after one person was killed and 40 others were injured Friday night when a roof collapse occurred during a concert at Belvidere's Apollo Theatre as severe storms swept through the community.

According to Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle, the historic theatre has been condemned after the damage from the storm, which was a tornado, according to Boone County Director of Emergency Management Dan Zaccard.

In addition to the Apollo Theatre, a building across the street had also been condemned, with the violent storm ripping the facades off of several downtown buildings.

Schadle noted that the city of Belvidere will work to preserve the Apollo Theatre, though structural engineers are slated to assess the building to determine if it's salvageable.

The theatre, which opened in January 1922, is considered to be the most historic building in Belvidere, with Schadle adding that the city will seek out resources to determine how the building can be rehabilitated.

Officials said at Saturday's press conference that 40 patients were treated on scene, with 28 patients receiving treatment at an area hospital for their injuries.

Of those hospitalized, two people sustained life-threatening injuries and two others remain hospitalized with serious injuries. Additionally, 18 people were treated for moderate injuries and five people were treated for minor injuries.

According to Zaccard, the person killed was a 50-year-old man who appeared to be a concertgoer. The man had been pronounced dead on the scene, with his body being moved out of harm's way by other concertgoers before the extent of his injuries were discovered.

Officials said fellow concertgoers helped remove debris from other attendees who were injured and moved them to safety, assisting in the rescue effort.

A tornado warning had been issued for the area at approximately 7:45 p.m., around 10 minutes before the collapse occurred, according to authorities.

Belvidere Fire Chief Shawn Schadle described the rescue effort as a large response consisting of numerous police, fire and emergency medical services agencies, as well as bystanders who immediately stepped in to help the wounded.

Both the theatre and a building across the street sustained severe wind damage and underwent "primary searches" by first responders. Additional, more thorough searches were underway in both buildings late Friday.

Trista Strommen, who went to the concert for her birthday, said the building was shaking, people were screaming and running to the door in an attempt to escape.

“I thought last night was my last night for sure I thought my birthday present was the last thing I would ever experience,” Strommen said.

“I just hope that everybody can find a way to heal from this,” she added.

NBC 5 talked to another witness who said, once the collapse happened, he immediately went to help those trapped in the rubble.

"Everybody tried to like leave the whole venue through the fire door," he said." It was a lot of chaos, so I looked around and saw people in the rubble, and tried to help as many people as possible."

Taina Bergamaschi, a musician with the band "Crypta," which performed at the venue, posted on Instagram following the collapse, saying "We are safe and sound... Tornado hit the venue, we lost our RV, but are ok."

Bergamaschi said the band is planning to release additional information.

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