(KRON) – Eucalyptus trees burn during fire season, and when it’s the rainy season they’re falling all over the place. KRON4 talked with an expert about why these trees seem to be falling the most.
The trees are not native to California. They were introduced to the state in the 1800s, but in 2023 these big trees are causing big problems for some across the Bay Area.
An urban forestry expert said eucalyptus trees are often very tall and very old, and they are not well-maintained. Combine that with the series of powerful storms we’ve had this year and destruction has followed.
An emergency rescue involving a fallen eucalyptus tree took place in the East Bay on Tuesday. Firefighters raced to save two people trapped in a crushed pick-up truck in Newark.
In Walnut Creek, a late-night scene showed a eucalyptus on top of a car. A 79-year-old passenger died at the scene. The driver was injured.
In Union City last week several eucalyptus trees toppled over onto homes, forcing evacuations. Scenes of these big trees causing destruction have played out in every big storm this year.
“Because they’re tall, because they’re old, because they’re large and because they’re close to where people live and/or close to the roads when they come down they tend to cause problems,” said Dr. Igor Lacan, a University of California urban forestry expert.
Lacan says top-heavy eucalyptus trees have struggled with resisting this year’s strong winds, with no help from saturated grounds. But the Bay Area’s eucalyptus trees have not been alone in the struggle. Wind gusts of up to 65 MPH were hitting parts of the East Bay Tuesday.
“I don’t think very many of our trees have really been used to those kinds of storms,” Dr. Lacan said. “It’s very difficult to predict how individual trees will perform at that level of force.”
Dr. Lacan says people who are concerned about eucalyptus trees or any big trees around their homes should consult with an arborist.
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“Any time tall, large trees coexist with humans they should be inspected by a qualified arborist,” he said.
Dr. Lacan says that even if eucalyptus trees have been somewhat maintained, issues will be difficult to correct based on their age and size.