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Two remain in hospital after towering tree falls on 8 kids at children’s museum

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)

Two children who were critically injured when a 75-foot tree toppled onto a group of campers at a children’s museum in Pasadena remained hospitalized Wednesday.

The condition of one child improved overnight and was stable, said Lisa Derderian, a spokeswoman for the Pasadena Fire Department. The other remained in serious condition.

Pasadena police investigators overnight documented the scene where the tree fell, injuring eight children ages 6 to 8 Tuesday outside the Kidspace Museum at Brookside Park. The other six children suffered minor injuries.

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On Wednesday, an independent arborist is expected to examine the pine that now lies in pieces across a green outside the museum, City Manager Michael Beck said. The city-owned tree, he said, showed no obvious signs of disease.

The group of children were 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 kids were screaming, and they were running,” Greg Prodigalidad said.

The Pasadena contractor was sitting on a bench nearby when he heard the tree snap and uproot.

“Once I saw the tree fall, I started running [toward it],” he said. “Me and a bunch of people — we were just moving all the branches away and getting all the kids out.”

The injured children were enrolled in a summer camp, which this week had 33 campers ages 5 to 9.

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.

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It is unclear what caused the tree collapse, but experts say root disease, fungus, wind and drought could have played a role.

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.

Drought has been blamed for killing millions of trees in California. Researchers estimated that the drought has killed off at least 12.5 million trees in California’s national forests.

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In Los Angeles, as many as 14,000 trees — about 4% of the total — may have died at city parks during the last year of drought, according to a city parks department survey ending in April. The toll would be less than 1% during a normal year.

The massive die-off of trees could have devastating environmental effects by raising temperatures, disrupting animal habitats and impeding water retention. Tree deaths will likely continue as Californians aim to comply with new conservation rules, the researchers said.

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA

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