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Giant trees topple amid heavy Southland rain

December 21, 2010 12:00:00 AM PST
The ground has become so saturated that fallen trees are becoming a major concern across the Southland. Several large trees have toppled, and with more rain coming, more trees could become unstable.Old black acacia falls in Brentwood
Brentwood resident Laurie Bernhard's Colorado road trip is delayed at least for a day because the tree that helped block out the sun for 30 years now blocks her way out of town.

The old black acacia uprooted and came crashing down cross the driveway and the second floor at 12:20 a.m. while she was still packing for her trip.

"The house shook, there was a thunderous sound and I have a puppy who completely freaked out along with me," she said.

The tree limbs shattered the window in the den upstairs. Flying glass landed on the sofa, and the flat-screen TV did a face plant onto the floor. Bernhard said she was thankful her son wasn't home watching TV.

"It could have been really bad," Bernhard said.

Gold Coast Tree Service, the company that will be removing Bernhard's tree, said they've had 25 calls for downed trees so far on Tuesday.

Blue-gum eucalyptus topples in Beverly Glen
Firefighters responded to a house at 10438 Oletha Lane in the Beverly Glen area at about 2:30 a.m. after a towering blue-gum eucalyptus fell onto a home. A man and woman in their 40s were sleeping inside when the tree came down, but they were not injured.

Tree removal expert Mike Sokoloff said the 70 to 80-foot tall tree appears to weigh about 50,000 pounds. The home has extensive damage.

Sokoloff said the trunk had some rot, but after several inches of rain and a weak root system, the tree didn't stand a chance.

The cost of trying to hoist the tree off the house is estimated to be about $12,000, and the damage estimate on the home is a minimum six figures.

Massive tree blocks traffic in Reseda
In Reseda, a massive tree crashed down on an SUV and a car on Sherman Way between Tampa and Corbin avenues. The branches extended across two lanes, blocking eastbound traffic.

Fortunately, a Good Samaritan armed with a chainsaw stopped to lend a hand and cleared the road.

Tree ruins vintage Ford
The rain was to blame for a tree that toppled over in Orange, damaging resident Eric Budzinski's 1970s Ford F250. He said he heard a rumble and wood cracking and felt his house shaking.

Budzinski said he was restoring his vintage vehicle, but now he has no transportation.

"The entire hood and cab is smashed in. The tree's inside, the dash is all curled over into the floor," he said.

Budzinski said he only had liability coverage on his vehicle.

"The insurance company refused to let me put full coverage on it, and so there's no money coming in, you know? No money to buy a new vehicle or anything," he said.

A 60-foot tree gave way in Garden Grove, landing on a house and garage, but nobody inside was injured.

Removing vulnerable trees before they fall
Gregg Buskett of Sherman Oaks Tree Service tries to strike before Mother Nature by removing unstable trees first.

"If you can look closely to the base, you can find some kind of fungus, some kind of mushroom growth or excessive termite secretions, then you have a real sign of a problem," said Buskett.

Buskett's crews not only cut down the trees, but they try to remove the fungus from the ground.

Residents who want to remove vulnerable trees were urged to contact a licensed professional. Experts said that people who try to take down trees on their own might end up doing more damage.


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