Massive branch falls in Sonora



A large branch from a huge old oak tree crashed onto a downtown Sonora street yesterday afternoon, taking out three power poles, grazing the roof of a house and narrowly missing cars parked nearby.

No one was injured, but Joe Harger said his 1972 El Camino would have been crushed if he hadn't moved it into his garage just 40 minutes before the 2:30 p.m. crash.

When the branch broke, it sounded like a bomb went off, Harger said.

Sonora Fire Chief Michael Barrows said the 20-inch-diameter branch appeared rotten at the base, which might have caused it to give way.

A PG&E crew was on hilly Sunset Drive between Yaney Avenue and Dodge Street within a half hour of the crash to shut off electrical power and assess the damage the branch did to three poles. The branch's enormous weight pulled down electrical, telephone and cable TV lines and caused the poles to snap.

One pole was at the end of Sunset Drive on Yaney and the other two were on Sunset itself.

Barrows and Sonora Maintenance Worker Jeff Busalacchi estimated the branch weighed about 5,000 pounds and would provide one to two cords of firewood.

The owner of a blue two-story house across the street from the tree was on vacation, Harger said. From the street, it appeared the gutters were torn from the roof when the branch grazed the house.

"The roof doesn't look too bad, but I don't think her fig tree is going to make it," Harger said.

Contact Amy Lindblom at .

The Union Democrat
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