2 large trees fall: Crash onto playground, crush truck in North Berkeley

UPDATE, MARCH 4: Berkeleyside asked the city whether it had plans to either assess and/or remove any of the remaining trees at King Park given that one of them, a giant eucalyptus, had come down on the playground there.  Several readers were in touch with the same questions. “We’ve done a visual assessment of the other trees in the park, and there are no plans to remove any at this time,” wrote city spokesman Matthai Chakko in response. “The tree at King School park did not show any visual signs of failure (no fungal or structural issues), but with such an unusual amount of rain and the last night’s unusually heavy wind, the stress on its shallow yuke root system was too much.” Chakko also wrote: “We have between 35-40,000 trees on public property in Berkeley and we monitor most of them. But trees, like people, are living, growing, and aging beings that, in many cases, don’t show obvious signs of potential failure. We are limited to visual inspections. In the last 12 months we have removed more than 300 hazardous trees, which is a typical amount over the past several years.”

ORIGINAL STORY: A giant eucalyptus toppled some time Tuesday night crashing onto the playground at King Park on Hopkins Street in North Berkeley. Half a mile away, another tree fell during the storm, on Rose Street at MLK Jr. Way, crushing a truck and causing the roadway to be temporarily blocked. There were no reported injuries.

Several readers shared photographs of the fallen tree at King Park which was growing just outside the playground fence in a bordered bed. The images show the tree’s exposed, shallow roots, how the trunk appears to rest on the playground fence and how its upper section struck a play structure in the playground.

“It’s terrible to think what would’ve happened if that had fallen over during the day when the park was in use,” wrote one tipster who preferred to remain anonymous

The area where the tree came down was cordoned off with tape Wednesday morning. By the afternoon, photos shared by Dan McDunn among others show people using the collapsed tree as a climbing structure.

The tree was part of a cluster of eucalyptuses in the park. King Park abuts King Middle School and King swimming pool.

In April 2015, the city took down a huge eucalyptus just north of King Pool after it was found to be rotting at its core. The 140-foot tree had wood fungus and decay, city staff said at the time and its location next to the pool and a playground thus created a dangerous situation.

The toppled eucalyptus fell across the park and struck a play structure.
The toppled eucalyptus struck a play structure. Photo: Chris Rooney
The toppled eucalyptus fell across the park and struck a play structure
The toppled eucalyptus fell across the park’s fence. Photo: Chris Rooney
 The tree that fell Tuesday was part of a cluster of eucalyptus trees in King Park.
The tree that fell Tuesday was part of a cluster of eucalyptus trees in King Park. Photo: Stuart Luman
People were clambering on the tree Wednesday. Photo: Citizen reporter
Fallen eucalyptus King Park Photo Tracey Taylor
The toppled eucalyptus at King Park had shallow roots. Photo Tracey Taylor
Fallen eucalyptus King Park Photo Tracey Taylor
People and their dogs came out to look at the great tree on the ground at King Park Wednesday evening. Photo Tracey Taylor
Fallen eucalyptus King Park Photo Tracey Taylor
Fallen eucalyptus at King Park at around 6 p.m. Wednesday. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Another large tree came down overnight during Tuesday’s storm near the intersection of Rose Street and MLK Jr. Way. Margaret Powers shared a photo of the tree around 7:15 a.m. Wednesday which shows how it crushed a pick-up truck as it toppled and landed across Rose, blocking the street. The sections of tree that landed in the roadway were removed Wednesday and a photograph shared by Dan McDunn at 1 p.m. shows its base still lying across the bed of the crushed truck.

A fallen tree blocks Rose Street just east of MLK Jr. Way. Photo, taken on Tuesday morning around 7 a.m
A fallen tree blocks Rose Street just east of MLK Jr. Way. Photo, taken on Wednesday morning around 7 a.m., by Margaret Powers
Sections of the tree that fell on Rose Street at MLK Jr. Way Tuesday night. The tree crushed a pick-up when it fell.
The tree that fell on Rose Street at MLK Jr. Way Tuesday night after most of it was removed. The tree crushed a pick-up when it fell. Photo: Dan McDunn
Google Street View shows the tree on Rose Street (on the right near front of dark blue car) before it fell
Google Street View shows the tree on Rose Street (on the right near front of dark blue car) before it fell. Photo: Google Images

In January, a eucalyptus fell and killed a man in his car at UC Berkeley. Alexander Grant, 32, of Novato was understood to be visiting someone on campus and the incident happened on Gayley Road. UC Berkeley said it would assess trees in the area of the fatality and remove any that posed a threat to public safety.