A massive city-maintained deodar cedar tree that had been partially uprooted this weekend by strong winds was cut down on Monday to keep it from bringing down power lines and crashing onto the roof of an Encinas Drive home.
The tree was as much as 90 years old and its hold had been weakened by damaged roots, said arborist Felix Hernandez of a city-contracted team sent to remove it.
Resident Jeremiah Arnold said he called the Los Angeles County Fire Department on Sunday to assess the 60-foot tall tree in front of his home after he and his wife saw that it was leaning up against the wires and over his neighbors’ home.
“We noticed that the landscaping [near the roots] was lifted up and the tree was actually leaning up against the power lines,” Arnold said.
On the recommendation of firefighters from nearby Fire Station 19, neighbors James and Carol Stoker temporarily evacuated their home Sunday afternoon as a precautionary measure, James Stoker said.
The tree was located on the 4600 block of Encinas, just a few doors up the street from La Cañada Elementary School.
The West Coast Arborists crew started work on the tree at 6:30 a.m., said Gonzalo Venegas, city maintenance and facilities superintendent.
After first removing branches that had come into contact with power lines, workers had to use a crane to hold the tree in place and keep pieces of the trunk from falling onto the wires as they were cut away.
“It’s a lot safer than just having a guy go up there and hack away from the top,” Venegas said.
The scene slowed traffic throughout the day and attracted attention from parents dropping children off at the school, some of them complaining that such a large tree would be cut down — until they learned it was about to fall over, said Arnold.
“I moved in two years ago, and I actually liked this house because of the tree,” Arnold said, adding that he will save a piece of its trunk to display in the yard.
“Someone cut back the root system years ago,” Hernandez said while pointing out a root segment that had been lifted from the ground. “This is what happens when you don’t do a clean cut. Roots can get fungus.”
There are many heritage deodars and other trees throughout La Cañada Flintridge, and seeing one about to come down alarmed passerby Pam Lengua.
“It makes you concerned. I’ve seen so many trees and branches come down over the years,” she said.