LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A man was killed after a massive oak tree uprooted and came crashing down onto a home in Encino late Sunday night.
The tree, which firefighters estimate weighed 100,000 pounds, came crashing down onto the two-story home at about 11:14 p.m. in the 5000 block of North Odessa Avenue.
According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, there were three people and a dog inside at the time.
Thirty firefighters and an LAFD Urban Search and Rescue crew responded, according to LAFD Capt. Cody Weireter.
Two women who were on the first floor when the tree came down were able to safely get out with the help of firefighters, along with the dog.
However, crews crawled through the debris and tree limbs on the second floor, fearful the tree might shift, and found a 60-year-old man dead in a bedroom from his injuries, Weireter said. His name was not immediately released.
It’s unclear why the tree came down, especially because there was no rain or wind Sunday night. Weireter said it’s possible last week’s powerful Santa Ana wind event could have weakened the tree.
“You’re looking at well over a hundred-thousand-pounds of a tree falling onto a home, in the middle of the night, with no wind or rain, very obviously unexpected and absolutely tragic,” Weireter said.
Neighbor Israel Gamburd said residents had been worried about the massive tree for some time.
“It’s very sad, very unfortunate, and something like this could have been prevented,” Gamburd told CBSLA.
Oak trees of this size are protected, and removing one requires approval from L.A. County planners. LAFD investigators say it appears the homeowners complied with L.A. County laws and paid for regular maintenance.
“She (the owner) was told (by arborists) that this tree was upwards of 500-years-old, so it was here long before the neighborhood,” LAFD Battalion Chief Douglas Lewis said.
One neighbor told CBSLA the tree had been leaning.
“It was leaning directly over the house, I mean, I’d say it was probably 30 degrees,” Tony Montero said.
“This tree was maintained, it was trimmed, and they didn’t catch that,” Gamburd added. “Somebody should have said, ‘Hey, you know what, it’s getting big, maybe cut it down or take it down.'”
Crews Monday began the process of removing the tree, which had lots of green leaves. One neighbor was told to evacuate while they cut it up.
The house, meanwhile, has been red tagged by the L.A. Department of Building and Safety. The Red Cross is assisting the two women with emergency housing.