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Menlo Park: Tree top falls, damaging roof and several vehicles

 

A 130-foot redwood tree in the 100 block of Baywood Avenue in Menlo Park is now shorter by about 30 feet after the top section of the tree fell during the windy storm on Thursday afternoon, March 1.

The tree parts penetrated the roof of a nearby home and severely damaged several vehicles sitting in the driveway, fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman of the Menlo Park Fire Protection District said in a statement.

There were no reports of injuries, the chief said. At the time of the incident, around 4:55 p.m., the house was occupied when a "large branch" entered a second-story bedroom, but the occupants were on the first floor, he said.

The section of the tree that fell had been damaged by a lightning strike in September 2017, the chief said.

Firefighters arrived at 4:58 p.m. and used ladders to reach the barn-style roof, where they cut and removed branches and covered the hole with a tarp and a plywood patch to prevent water damage, the chief said.

Over the weekend, a tree service cleaned up the upper section of what remains of the tree, the chief said.

During the incident, the fire district used a drone to provide live streaming video, allowing firefighters to inspect damage to the roof, oversee steps taken to secure it and check the status of the damaged tree, the chief said. The drone "flew right up against the tree and directly above it," the chief said in an email.

"We continue to develop new use cases for our Drone fleet and increase our number of actual practical operations," the chief said in a statement. "In the past, there would have not been a safe and convenient way to have accessed and inspected this large Redwood Tree to better understand that it actually presented a threat to public safety below."

After the lightning strike, the homeowners had a tree service look at the tree and trim it if necessary, the chief said. Crews from Pacific Gas & Electric Company also examined the tree at the time, looking for risks to the adjacent power line infrastructure, but found no threats, the chief said.

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Dave Boyce

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