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Tree Safety Emphasized After Gainesville Tragedy

Shane Chernoff Tree Safety Story

Gainesville is home to many old, majestic trees, but when they fall their effects can be devastating.

Tree safety has once again resurfaced after a massive oak tree fell on a home and killed a Gainesville woman and hospitalized her husband early Wednesday morning. The husband, who was stuck under the tree for hours, was rescued by Alachua County Fire Rescue, but remains in the hospital.

The tree, standing at 100 feet tall and 4 feet wide, collapsed directly onto the house.

Though the incident was devastating, Alachua County spokesperson Todd Kelly said trees falling this time of year is not a rare occurrence.

"A cold front came through in the last couple of days and there were some strong winds associated with that," he said. "Anytime we've had high winds in Alachua County, whether it be a storm, a cold front, or whatever, it's not uncommon for us to receive hazardous condition calls. Anything from trees being down, power lines being down... we get inundated with those type of calls."

What is uncommon is that the tree that fell was a live oak, a variety of tree that has deeper roots than some of its Gainesville counterparts.

David Sherry, owner Pinnacle Tree Company, said other types of trees in Gainesville with shallower roots are more vulnerable to collapsing.

"Look for the laurels and the water oaks that have far exceeded their lives and start to get major cavities," he said.  "...too many limbs, too much weight over a house — that type of situation is dangerous."

Sherry added that the best preventative measures are maintenance and regular care for trees, but residents should call an arborist or a tree service to do so.

He said 142 fatalities last year came from homeowners attempting to do tree care
on their own.

Keighly is a reporter who can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.
Shane is a reporter for WUFT News who may be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news @wuft.org