When a tree falls in town, everyone hears it | PostIndependent.com

When a tree falls in town, everyone hears it

It’s difficult to snag much shut-eye when your 90-foot-tall spruce tree blows down a few hours before bedtime. Just ask Carbondale resident Anne Chapman.

“I kept waking up wondering `Could someone be under the tree?’ I couldn’t sleep,” Chapman said.

High winds blew down Chapman’s tree at approximately 6 p.m. on Monday. Nobody was under the tree. There were no injuries and no major property damage.

“But it fell on the stop sign (at Third and Euclid), so if anyone had been at the intersection, they could have been killed,” said Chapman.

Kate Lindeman-Schutt lives across the street from Chapman on Third Street, and was in the backyard “hanging on to my umbrella” when she saw the gigantic tree topple over.

“It just cracked and fell,” said Schutt. “I bet it didn’t take two seconds.”

Chapman has lived on her large lot at Third and Euclid, not far from the downtown library, since the late 1980s. She said the property’s old DeBeque house was built in 1912. She later subdivided the parcel and built a new house west of the tree, which stood by itself at the corner.

Part of her subdivision agreement with the town said that the tree couldn’t be cut down for construction, but it could be removed if it died, according to town planner Mark Chain.

“Little did I know it would happen in my lifetime,” said Chapman, who is in her 70s.

The Third and Euclid area, two blocks south of Main Street, is a mix of old, new and remodeled homes, some on roomy lots. Schutt said many of her neighbors ran to Chapman’s tree as soon as they heard it snap and crash to the street.

“It was probably about halfway out into Euclid,” Schutt said.

The first thing Schutt, Chapman and the neighbors did was to search under the tree for victims. Later, neighbor Lou Dawson brought out his tape to measure the tree.

“It was 90 feet,” Schutt said.

At its base, the trunk’s circumference was 11 feet.

It’s not unusual for high winds to rip up spruce trees by their roots. In fact, police chief Gene Schilling said a mature spruce tree on Eighth Street was felled that way a few years ago. Chapman’s tree didn’t go like that. Its trunk snapped in a diagonal line that ran from a couple of feet up from the ground to a height of about nine feet.

Chapman, a member of Carbondale’s tree board, said she had monitored the tree’s health for more than a year, and called out a forester to tap the trunk to determine the tree’s condition.

“There was a slight borer problem,” Chapman said. “But we didn’t identify borers doing major damage … the center of the tree is not hollow.”

Chapman speculates the tree was planted in the side yard soon after the DeBeque house was built in 1912. She points to the growth, residential infill and increased traffic Carbondale has experienced in the past few years, and cautions others with large trees.

“This was the wrong tree in the wrong place … but when it was planted nobody thought of that. It grew out of its place,” Chapman said.

Residents say the Chapman spruce was the largest tree around, and folks are bemoaning its loss like they might a friendly neighborhood pet. “It’s left a big void,” Schutt said. “The corner looks naked.”

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