SAN DIEGO — Residents in Point Loma Heights said Monday they were concerned about a huge pine tree in their neighborhood before it crashed onto a home and killed two people who were sleeping inside early Monday.
The Torrey pine, which was nearly 90 feet tall, crushed the upper floor of a two-story house in the 4400 block of Santa Monica Avenue around 6 a.m. killing the two people inside, police confirmed. Arborists estimate that the big pine was about 60 years old.
“A week earlier, my husband had said the tree — if it ever falls — it’s going to be an issue,” said resident Jamie Campbell.
The trees are common in San Diego coastal communities but can be dangerous without proper care. An arborist told FOX 5 that if you can see sky through the tree, it means wind can blow through the branches. But if the needles are too thick, the tree can be dangerous.
“The less it’s been thinned out, the more likely it will come down in a wind storm,” said Ocean Beach arborist Justin Cappola. Anyone concerned about the safety of a large tree should call an arborist for a a free evaluation, Cappola said.
According to the National Weather Service, wind gusts of up to 40 mph were recorded in the area at about the time the tree came down.
“It’s tough, because these trees are somewhat historic. They’re big, they’re massive and no one ever wants to see them taken out,” said Insurance Agent Matt Kalla. “Then you come across tragedies like these and second-guess it. We have to maintain these trees, or you can have a horrific type of event like this”
The shallow roots of a Torrey pine spread horizontally, rather than down, officials said.
“They grow on the side of hills in San Diego. This is really their native habitat,” said Ocean Beach arborist Justin Cappolla.