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New: Redwood Explodes in Berkeley During Storm

By Drew Himmelstein (BCN)
Tuesday April 01, 2014 - 09:00:00 PM

An 80-foot tree exploded on a residential street after lightning struck it during a storm Monday afternoon, breaking windows and skylights and damaging cars, homes and roofs, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb. 

Large chunks of wood and debris flew through the air and were scattered up to a block away, Webb said. Two roofs were significantly damaged, and conditions in one home are so hazardous that the city determined it to be uninhabitable, Webb said. 

The fire department responded to a call at 1:22 p.m. that a large redwood on the corner of Holly Street and Buena Avenue had been blown apart by lightning, Webb said. 

When firefighters arrived, they found that the 80-foot tree, which sits on private property, had been reduced to a 25-foot trunk, according to Webb. 

Firefighters went door-to-door to assess hazards and see whether anyone had been injured, Webb said. 

"With the amount of carnage that resulted from that lightning strike, it was pretty amazing that nobody did get hurt," Webb said. 

Several homes lost power due to debris breaking their electrical lines, Webb said. PG&E was working on restoring power, Webb said. 

Berkeley's Department of Public Works went through the area collecting debris on public property, Webb said. Most debris landed within a half-block radius, but police found pieces as far away as Sacramento Street, a block away, according to Webb.