By Mary O’KEEFE
A smell of gas had Glendale firefighters and The Gas Co. responding to the 3300 block of Burritt Way at about 10:30 a.m. on Thursday.
The morning was windy, causing several trees to lose branches in the gusts.
“When we got here we saw that [a large pine] tree was [moving],” said Battalion Chief Tom Probst.
The firefighters, concerned the tree would topple in the wind, evacuated the homes in the area. The property owner, Marian Westerholm, was keeping a watchful eye on the situation along with her daughter, Joanna Linkchorst, who lives next door.
“You could see the ground [around the tree] lifting and shifting,” said Linkchorst.
The utility company shut off the gas and the neighbors watched as the tree began to tilt in the wind.
About 10 minutes after all were evacuated, the tree slowly started to topple, crashing across Burritt Way.
“The old tree fell down gracefully,” said Westerholm. The tree’s roots tugging and pulling underground just before the pine fell had ruptured her gas line.
Linkchorst was melancholy as she reflected on the passing of the pine.
“I grew up with this tree,” she said. She was raised in Westerholm’s home. As neighbors, her children had grown up with the tree and were saddened when it toppled.
The tree was estimated to be about 80 feet tall and over 50 years old.
A representative from the city arrived to evaluate the damage. Luckily the tree landed just short of the home across the street and there were no vehicles parked on the street in its path.
Neighbors like Jim Yukl and Rosanna Rabottini were among those who watched the tree fall. Yukl has a wind measurement device at this home that registered the wind gusts at 42 miles per hour. He had contacted the city hours earlier about a large branch that had snapped off a tree in his front yard.
“The city came right away and took care of it,” he said.
The Westerholm tree was a big part of this close-knit neighborhood, figuratively and literally.
“Our neighborhood won a beautification award by the city,” Rabottini said. “And that tree was part of that.”
Throughout the foothills, the winds continued to do damage. A large tree limb fell on that same day in the 2600 block of Franklin Street. Unfortunately the limb fell on a vehicle that was parked on the street just under the tree. The limb was so big it blocked the road, isolating half of the neighborhood and preventing many residents from leaving the street. Neighbors called 911 but before they could arrive a Good Samaritan with a chain saw came by.
“We called Phil Downs [a resident several streets away] and he came down and began cutting it up,” said Don Norbut.
In La Cañada, the Walton home on Castle Road narrowly avoided damage when a large tree estimated to be between 50 and 60 feet toppled over just missing the home. According to the homeowner, the tree was a living Christmas tree that had been planted many years ago.