Massive tree crashes through roof of Woodland Hills restaurant, damages nearby vehicles

WOODLAND HILLS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Surveillance camera video captured the moment a large tree crashed through the roof of a family-owned restaurant in Woodland Hills.

Customers and employees were inside the business when it happened.

"I just took this table's order and I turned around to go put it in and all of the sudden it just sounded like Armageddon. It was the scariest thing I've ever heard," Gigi Sumpter said.

Two vehicles in the parking lot were crushed and a back room used for food preparation sustained heavy damage. Rib Ranch Barbeque owner Mike Ignelzi and his staff were getting ready for a wedding rehearsal dinner.

"Usually I prep in the prep room, but for some reason I wanted to prep out in the kitchen tonight and about 4:30 p.m. I heard this bomb go off," Ignelzi said.

Rib Ranch Barbeque has been in business in the house on Topanga Canyon Boulevard for nearly 50 years. The massive eucalyptus tree that fell was estimated to be at least 50 feet tall.

"The tree has been wobbly and leaning for years. We've had to have the city come out and trim it. It's leaning onto our building for a long time," Nicole Berg said.

The family believes the tree was diseased.

"They just took down the liquid amber tree in front because it was diseased. They should have taken this tree down as well. It really could have been prevented," Ignelzi said.

The tree crashed down shortly before about 55 guests were expected to arrive for a rehearsal dinner, forcing the cancellation of the event.

The owners said this could have been much worse.

"My first reaction was is anybody hurt? Is anybody in those cars back there? Is anybody in that back prep room? Because all day long people are coming and going back there and it's just a blessing that nobody got hurt," Berg said.

The owners said a portable grill used for catering was also destroyed by the tree.

Crews were heading out Sunday to remove the tree, and the restaurant will be closed for a few days.
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