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Tuolumne County Oak Tree Smashes Houses and Cars

Property Destroyed by Fallen Oak Tree in Sonora

Last week, a giant oak tree fell in Sonora, California. The tree was so massive it severely damaged three homes and four vehicles.  Sonora City Fire Department and Tuolumne County Fire responded to the scene.  

The tree fell around 11:30 p.m. on the night of March 18, 2021, at a mobile home park.  Thankfully, there were no injuries, and an inspection was completed to ensure that there were no gas leaks or other dangerous utility issues.  The residents of the damaged homes were offered temporary housing through the Red Cross, but no one accepted the offer.

Tuolumne County Trees 

Tuolomne County, like much of the surrounding region, experiences long, hot, and dry summers. The area is drought-prone. The dry climate results in an increased risk of falling trees. Arid soil weakens trees. Combine weak trees with gusty spring and summer winds, and we have a recipe for potential disaster.  

Tuolumne County has long been aware that dying and dead trees threaten its infrastructure and public safety.  In fact, in the fall of 2015, a Local State of Emergency was declared in an attempt to deal with extensive tree mortality throughout the region. The County began addressing ways to mitigate dangerous dead trees. This included an Executive Order signed by then-Governor Jerry Brown, which authorized state funds through the California Disaster Assistant Act (CDAA) to provide 75% reimbursement for costs related to the removal of dangerous trees that posed a threat to public infrastructure.

Watch the YouTube video.  The clip below from KCRA discusses how some of Tuolumne County’s dead trees are being used.

Some Private Trees May be Removed 

The Executive Order allowed the City, County, and Special Districts some flexibility with regard to removing private trees that could adversely affect County-maintained structures or roads.  Some common questions Tuolumne County residents have asked with regard to the County removal of privately-owned trees are listed below.

Tuolumne County Private Tree Removal – FAQs

  • Q: Will the County remove dying or dead trees from my property?
  • A: Only those dead or dying trees that may affect County-maintained roads or structures may be removed and only if the homeowner signs a Right of Entry Permit.  Signing the document will not guarantee that your trees will be marked for removal, but the County cannot access your property at all if the Right of Entry Permit is not executed and returned.
  • Q: Will the County give a timeline for any work performed on my property?
  • A: No. With its limited resources the County is not able to contact individual homeowners before work begins on their property.  Additionally, it is difficult to estimate how long each project will last.
  • Q: What should I do if there is a dead tree on my property that could fall before the County removes it?
  • A: If you are afraid that a dead tree on your property is presenting a danger, you should have a local arborist or tree contractor remove it. Be aware that this will be out-of-pocket and not a reimbursable expense through the County, however.

Modesto Tree Accident Lawyer

Hello, and thank you for reading.  I’m Ed Smith, a Modesto Tree Accident Attorney.  My law firm has handled complex personal injury cases since 1982.  Dead and dying trees often present a dangerous condition on private and public properties.  A falling tree or tree limb can cause severe injuries in addition to property damage.  If you or someone you love has been injured by a falling tree or branch, reach out to our injury lawyers for free and friendly advice.  Call us at (209) 227-1931 or, from outside the area, at (800) 404-5400.  You may also send your inquiry to us via our online contact form if you prefer.  

Photo Attribution: MMcB

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