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Pasadena officials: No clear answers yet why city tree fell on kids

Two arborists from the city of Pasadena try to examine the tree that fell near the Kidspace Children's Museum, trapping 33 children beneath its branches.

Two arborists from the city of Pasadena try to examine the tree that fell near the Kidspace Children’s Museum, trapping 33 children beneath its branches.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Pasadena officials said an independent arborist’s examination Wednesday of a 75-foot tree that toppled in a city park and injured eight children, two of them critically, has yet to produce a clear cause for the pine’s fall.

The 75-year-old tree came crashing down Tuesday as elementary school-age campers from the nearby Kidspace Children’s Museum were waiting under its canopy in the city’s Brookside Park shortly before 5 p.m.

“We don’t have anything concrete yet as to the cause,” said William Boyer, the city’s spokesman. “At this moment we don’t have anything that clearly says this is why this happened.”

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The arborist hired by the city spent more than two hours examining the tree’s structure, roots and the surrounding soil Wednesday afternoon. Then a city crew began slicing up the once-towering pine and removing its massive limbs, branches and trunk.

City officials would not immediately identify the expert they brought in to examine the downed pine.

City Manager Michael Beck earlier said the city’s staff certified tree expert had identified no obvious signs of disease or water deficiency that could have led to the tree’s fall. But Beck said he wanted an independent opinion, so the city hired an independent expert.

Meanwhile, the conditions of the two critically injured children have improved somewhat, said Lisa Derderian, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Fire Department.

Pasadena police investigators overnight documented the scene where the tree fell, injuring eight children ages 6 to 8 on Tuesday outside the museum. The other six children suffered minor injuries.

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The group of children was at the park at about 4:50 p.m. when the massive tree tipped over and landed on them.

Parents, camp counselors and museum staff, even kitchen workers, scooped the children from under the toppled tree.

The towering pine tree rested in front of the museum’s entrance but is located within the boundaries of Brookside Park, a 62-acre public park in the Arroyo Seco next to the Rose Bowl.

The city park is watered regularly and was not subject to the same water conservation measures as other parts of the city, Beck said.

The fallen pine, like other trees in the park, was maintained by the city, which has more than 40,000 trees.

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