SPRINGFIELD, Mass. — At least two tornadoes swept through western and central Massachusetts Wednesday, sending debris slamming into buildings and killing four people, Massachusetts’ governor said.

Gov. Deval Patrick said two people died in Westfield, one in West Springfield, and one in Brimfield in the central part of the state. He had no details about those killed.

The storms did extensive damage in Springfield, the state’s third largest city. State police reported 33 injuries there and said five were serious enough to require surgery.

The weather system had a smaller impact in Maine, but the National Weather Service in Gray is planning to send out survey teams today to investigate whether tornadoes touched down in western Maine and the foothills extending to Somerset County.

Meteorologist Bob Marine said the weather service received several unconfirmed reports of funnel clouds and tornadoes from residents of those areas.

Marine said Wednesday’s weather produced thunderstorms and large hail, including reports of baseball-sized hail in the Kingfield area. Golf ball-sized chunks fell in Livermore Falls, Canton and just south of Lewiston.

In Massachusetts, Patrick said the path of damage from the first and more powerful of the two tornadoes extended from Westfield, just west of Springfield, and extended east to the community of Douglas. He said the second, slightly less powerful, tornado cut a path from West Springfield all the way to Sturbridge in the central part of the state.

Patrick declared a state of emergency and called up 1,000 National Guardsmen.
Bob Pashko of West Springfield said he was coming from his doctor’s office when the storm started and he went to a downtown bar in Springfield to wait for a ride.

“The next thing you know the TV says a tornado hit the railroad bridge in West Springfield,” said Pashko, 50. “It’s the baddest I’ve seen.”

The Rev. Bob Marrone of The First Church of Monson said the storm produced a view he’s never seen across the valley where the town sits.

“I can see the plywood of roofs, and see houses where most of the house is gone,” he said. “The road that runs up in front of my house … There’s so many trees down, it’s completely impassable.”

The storm hit the Springfield area after a tornado watch was issued for much of the East Coast, including Philadelphia, New York and Boston.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, said he was joining Patrick in a planned tour of tornado damage Wednesday night.

Patrick said there was extensive damage in Hampden County, especially to homes and other structures. He said there were a number of live wires down. He said at least 48,000 homes were without electricity. The state has opened shelters for those who need a place to stay.

Patrick repeated his call for superintendents in the 19 affected communities to cancel school today. He said state employees in those areas also are urged to stay home and off the roads to give cleanup crews a chance to work.

The governor said he had preliminary reports of some looting in downtown Springfield. He said the looting tapered off as heavy rains set in. State police are securing the area. No looting arrests were reported.

Patrick said the damage has hit home for him and Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray. Murray is the former mayor of Worcester and Patrick owns a home in western Massachusetts.