Strong winds down giant Auburn oak, evacuate residence

High Street closed for safety as remaining limb catches on side of house
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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What’s worse than a tree falling in an Auburn neighborhood? For residents near a 1200-block High Street oak, the answer Tuesday was: “Half a tree.” One of the 75-foot split oak’s limbs crashed to the ground as winds gusted through the area. But the other limb stayed up, propped precariously against a house that was soon evacuated. The limb that fell crushed a truck and landed in the parking lot of an apartment complex. Cecil Roseberry, who has a second-floor apartment in the two-story complex, was checking his mail outside on the porch when the tree toppled. He ended up with a slice on his leg from a falling branch. “”The first thing I noticed was a sound like someone beating two big plastic trashcans together,” Roseberry said. He looked up to see tons of tree branches falling toward him. “It started snapping, snapping, snapping. I thought it would take out the living room,” Roseberry said. “I survived cancer over the past two years – and then to be killed by a tree?” The tree grazed the side of the porch as Roseberry hurried inside his apartment. Mary vander Moer, another apartment resident, said she heard “a nasty noise” while she was cleaning out her refrigerator. She was awed by the size of the tree and often wondered when it would fall. “Today it did,” Vander Moer said. “Nobody was hurt. That’s the main thing.” With the giant limbs of the tree blocking the driveway into the apartment complex, the 11 residents were unable to get their vehicles in or out. Auburn Police closed High Street from Auburn Folsom Road to just past the Gold Country Fairgrounds entrance because the remaining limb standing appeared poised to fall. It was held against a one-story house and creaked audibly as it swayed when a stiff gust of wind moved through its branches. Pacific Gas & Electric and a Davey tree-trimming crew were on the scene by 5 p.m. to determine how the tree’s remaining limb could be removed safely. Utility lines and the presence of the house below the tree complicated the job. Joni Parker was watching the emergency unfold from across the street in the Bethlehem Lutheran Church parking lot. “They rushed us out,” she said. “The house is holding the tree up.” Winds caused several trees to fall Tuesday in the foothills, with the National Weather Service automated station at Auburn registering a high speed of 24 mph during the day. Winds were even stronger in the Sacramento Valley area, with winds reaching 40 mph at the Sacramento International Airport.