Fallen tree blocks road, damages car

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A large eucalyptus tree planted in front of the Weingart Center for the Liberal Arts on Occidental’s lower campus fell onto Bird Road at approximately 11:45 p.m. Feb. 22 due to strong winds, damaging a car belonging to a non-student employee of the Tiger Cooler. The damaged car is a new Nissan Altima displaying temporary paper license plates. A second tree, planted nearby, fell along the sidewalk in front of Weingart.

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Campus Safety notified campus that North Bird Road will be closed until further notice due to a fallen tree via email at 1:14 a.m.

According to Robert Starec, associate director of campus dining, the employee and fellow staff members were alerted to the collapsed tree approximately 15 minutes before the end of their shift.

The same tree that fell onto the car also landed on the northeast corner of the Tiger Cooler building.

Willie Siau
Willie Siau

“From initial inspection it looks like there was no damage [to the Cooler], but we won’t know until everything is removed,” Starec said.

As of Thursday morning, North Bird Road, adjacent to Weingart and the Tiger Cooler, has been blocked off as Occidental Facilities staff and Steven’s Tree Experts, an outside tree removal service, are currently working to remove the fallen trees. Jim Crowder, a member of the Grounds department, said that staff members were looking at the same trees last week due to potentially unstable leaning, a common problem with eucalyptus trees.

“This is one of the biggest tree fallings that we’ve had on campus in the 28 years I’ve been here,” Crowder said.

Willie Siau
Willie Siau

In addition to Facilities staff and the tree removal service, Crowder said that an arborist will be coming as soon as possible to inspect the remaining trees on campus in order to prevent further collapses. Crowder is uncertain about how long the Bird Road cleanup will take, which depends on the availability of a larger crane to remove the fallen tree trunks currently blocking Bird Road. Jim Tranquada, director of communications, notified campus via email that Facilities is hopeful Bird Road can be reopened to traffic by the end of the day.

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