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‘Unprecedented’ Tree Die-Off Hits Southern California

Unprecedented’ Tree Die-Off Hits Southern California

For the full audio interview, click here. 

Above: Dead trees in the Cleveland National Forest in San Diego County are pictured in this undated photo. They are a casualty of the goldspotted oak borer beetle. – Photo Credit, Cleveland National Forest.


Researchers from the U.S. Forest Service are documenting what they are calling an unprecedented die-off of trees in urban areas across Southern California.

Sycamores, willows, avocado and citrus trees are dying because of the drought, pests and disease infestations.

Greg McPherson, a supervisory research forester with the Forest Service, estimates that a pest called the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle alone could kill 27 million trees across the region. That is about 40 percent of the area’s 70 million urban trees.

McPherson joined Midday Edition Wednesday to talk about the environmental and economic impacts of California’s tree die-off.

The trees that make Southern California shady and green are dying. Fast.

Click here to read the original article in the LA times 

By Louis Sahagun

The trees that shade, cool and feed people from Ventura County to the Mexican border are dying so fast that within a few years it’s possible the region will look, feel, sound and smell much less pleasant than it does now.

“We’re witnessing a transition to a post-oasis landscape in Southern California,” says Greg McPherson, a supervisory research forester with the U.S. Forest Service who has been studying what he and others call an unprecedented die-off of the trees greening Southern California’s parks, campuses and yards.

Botanists in recent years have documented insect and disease infestations as they’ve hop-scotched about the region, devastating Griffith Park’s sycamores and destroying over 100,000 willows in San Diego County’s Tijuana River Valley Regional Park, for example.

McPherson’s is the first survey to quantify and assess the big picture.

His initial estimate is that just one particularly dangerous menace — the polyphagous shot hole borer beetle — could kill as many as 27 million trees in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, including parts of the desert.

That’s roughly 38% of the 71 million trees in the 4,244 square mile urban region with a population of about 20 million people.

And that insect is just one of the imminent threats.

“Many of the trees we grow evolved in temperate climates and can’t tolerate the stress of drought, water restrictions, higher salinity levels in recycled water, wind and new pests that arrive almost daily via global trade and tourism, local transportation systems, nurseries and the movement of infected firewood,” he said.

If as many trees as projected die, the cost to remove and replace them could be about $36 billion, he said.

But Southern Californians would face many other costs.

“Catastrophic loss of our canopy,” McPherson said, “would have consequences for human health and well-being, property values, air-conditioning savings, carbon storage, the removal of pollutants from the air we breathe, and wildlife habitat.”

Jerrold Turney, plant pathologist for Los Angeles County, likened the surge in urban tree mortality to “watching a train wreck in slow motion.”

“It’s heartbreaking,” he said, “to see trees dying in such dramatic numbers in famously lush cities like Pasadena, Alhambra and Arcadia: sycamores, all the maples, olives, liquidambers, flower plums, myrtles, oleanders and oaks.”

Mark Hoddle, director of UC Riverside’s Center for Invasive Species, said that the tree loss is “starting to cascade across the urban landscape.”

“Without shade trees, water temperatures will rise and algae will bloom in riparian areas, for instance,” Hoddle said. “As a result, fish, frog and native insect populations will diminish, along with the pleasure of hiking, because there’ll be nothing to look at but dead boughs of trees.”

“And,” he added, “there will be no miraculous recovery of these urban ecosystems after the beetles are done with them.”

Among the hardest-hit native species of urban trees are California sycamores, typically found along streams and commonly used as shade and street trees in places such as Griffith Park and along downtown’s Wilshire Boulevard.

“Here’s the sad news about sycamores,” said Akif Eskalen, a plant pathologist at the University of California, Riverside. “If we cannot control the shot hole borer, it will kill all the sycamores in California. And when they’re done with sycamores, they’ll move to other trees.”

By 2012, pathologists knew that the shot hole borer was transmitting a fatal fungal disease to 19 species of trees in Southern California, he said. Since then, scientists have identified 30 additional host species.

“We expect the number of tree hosts to grow even higher over the next few years,” Eskalen said. “And at this point, there’s not much we can do about that.”

Meanwhile, the relatively recent invasion of shot hole borers is only part of the crisis that scientists are scrambling to control.

  • In San Diego County, it was a cousin of the ployphagous beetle, the Kuroshio shot hole borer, that infested more than 144,000 willow trees in Tijuana River Valley Regional Park last year, officials said.
  • The goldspotted oak borer has killed tens of thousands of drought-stressed oak trees while moving from San Diego County to Los Angeles County.
  • The aphid-size Asian citrus psyllid is transferring an incurable bacterial disease from tree to tree as it feeds on citrus leaves.
  • A flying insect known as the glassy-winged sharpshooter is spreading oleander leaf scorch, a bacterial disease that was first discovered in the Palm Springs area and has now spread throughout Southern California.
  • The 1 1/2-inch-long South American palm weevil poses a serious threat to palms throughout the Southwestern United States after turning up in 2016 in the neighborhoods just north of the Mexican border.

In Orange County’s Holy Jim Canyon, “the word is plague,” said Michael Milligan, chief of the local volunteer fire department. “Thousands of dead and still-standing alders look like pick-up sticks propped up along the creek.”

At Craig Regional Park in Fullerton, circular dirt patches of dirt are all that remains of dozens of venerable sycamores that had shaded a canyon where families came to picnic and even hold weddings.

Vanessa Fields, 47, of Brea, and her friend Diane Swanson, 67, of Buena Park, were stunned by the devastation they came upon during a lunch-hour stroll on a recent weekday.

“What the heck happened here?” Fields asked. “Where’s the gorgeous trees?”

That same day, horticulture expert John Kabashima was checking up on one of the many stricken sycamores at that park.

Peering through a magnifying glass, he marveled at the persistence of polyphagous beetles fulfilling their complex life-cycles. The bugs are smaller than sesame seeds, but they bore by the thousands into the bark, then line the tunnels with a species of fungi that disrupts the transport of water and nutrients from roots to leaves. Within a few weeks, their larvae hatch, mature and mate to produce new generations in the tree.

“This pest is unusual in that it reproduces . . . within the tree,” he said. “As a result, it is extremely difficult to reach and treat.”

Kabashima said state and federal officials have been slow to respond with organized campaigns to eradicate the pests that are ravaging the trees because urban forests don’t support logging crews and regional economies.

“When it comes to invasive insects and disease, agriculture gets all the attention and money,” Kabashima said with a sigh. “Urban forests have been left out in the cold.”

Many of the invasive insects and diseases ravaging Southern California arrived as stowaways on trees and plants installed during the post-World War II housing boom.

Unchecked by natural predators, their numbers exploded during the most severe drought on record, which officially ended earlier this month.

Scientists say that an average of nine new insect species establish populations on the landscape each year, and three of those interlopers become significant pests.

Frank McDonough, botanist at the Los Angeles County Arboretum, suggested that urban forests are suffering partly because “so many of the trees we grow don’t belong here and aren’t sustainable without plentiful supplies of imported water.”

“Historic photos of the region show coastal shrubs, oaks on the foothills and sycamores along streams and rivers,” he said. “Yet, we planted way too many trees from areas that get two to three times as much rain as we do.”

Liquidambar is one example. The species evolved in the Southeastern United States, then developers and property owners planted it in Southern California after World War II. At the time, the trees seemed perfect: Not too tall, with lustrous maple-like leaves that turn into a spectacular show of yellow, pink and red hues in the fall.

Decades later, leaf scorch, shot hole borers and drought are quickly adding Liquidambar to the long list of trees whose days in Southern California appear to be numbered.

Andy Lipkis, founder of the nonprofit TreePeople, said Southern Californians are starting to pay attention to the crisis, recognizing just how indebted they are to the region’s trees.

“Losing our trees would cost us a lot,” he said, including “the accelerated loss of the California Dream in neighborhoods throughout the region.”

“Trees” he said, “reduce heat and light intensity, protect water, rid the air of pollutants and instill a sense of peace by filling the landscape with the sights, smells and sounds of nature.”

McPherson said he hopes his report wakes up the state’s leaders to the die-off. The next steps, he said, should include monitoring the unprecedented damage the urban forests are suffering, and taking steps to remove dead trees and plant new, probably different ones: “a new, diverse palette of well-adapted species that may not be currently available in nurseries.”

“It may be, for example, that trees that grow well in, say, Phoenix … are the ones that will grow well in Los Angeles in decades to come,” he said.


The Making of a South American Palm Weevil Mini-Documentary for “Deep Look” with KQED

South African Palm Weevil Mini-Documentary

(This article was origialy posted here.)



The South American palm weevil, Rhynchophorus palmarum (Coleoptera: Curculionidae), is well established in parts of San Diego County in California and is responsible for killing numerous Canary Islands date palms. The spectacular damage this invasive pest causes and the large showy adult weevils and alien-looking larvae and pupae, captured the imagination of Elliott Kennerson and Joshua Cassidy, digital media producers for the science show Deep Look with KQED Public Television and Radio in San Francisco. After a few phone calls and ensuing discussions, Elliott made the pitch to KQED to develop a story on the palm weevil and the project was given approval for development.

A plan was made to drop a weevil infested Canary Island date palm tree in a residential area in San Diego County and from this palm weevil life stages would be collected and filmed. The first challenge was finding an infested palm, which we did, and the bigger challenge was to bring the palm down and then cut it up so we could examine the crown of the dying palm for weevils.

Paul Webb with RPW Services, Inc. put us in contact with Michael Palat from West Coast Arborists, Inc. who generously offered to taken the palm down and then dispose of it free of charge.

The take down of the palm was done on 27 March 2017 and filmed by Josh and Elliott. This involved a lot of camera work, including Go Pro’s strapped to the helmet of the arborist who was responsible for chain sawing the palm from the bucket lift!  Adult weevils, pupae, and one larva were recovered from the palm. The weevil life stages were photographed and filmed, and flight mill activity was all digitally recorded on 28 March 2017. Hours of digital footage was recorded and this will be condensed down to about 3 minutes when the final version is produced and released for public viewing in early July 2017.

Invasive Shot Hole Borers Threatening Trees in Southern California

Invasive Shot Hole Borers Threatening Trees in Southern California

Originally Posted Here –

The Polyphagous shot hole borer (PSHB) (Fig. 1) and Kuroshio shot hole borer (KSHB) are invasive wood-boring beetles that attack dozens of tree species in Southern California, including commercial avocado groves, common landscape trees, and native species in urban and wildland environments. Both beetles spread a disease called Fusarium Dieback (FD), which is caused by pathogenic fungi. Trees that are FD-susceptible may experience branch dieback, canopy loss, and tree mortality (Fig. 2).

Insect Vector

PSHB carries three fungi: Fusarium euwallaceae, Graphium euwallaceae and  Paracremonium pembeum. KSHB carries two new species of fungi: Fusarium sp. and Graphium sp. Mature females of both species are black and 0.07­ to 0.1 inches (1.8–2.5 mm) long, whereas males are brown and smaller than females at 0.06 inches (1.5 mm) long. The female attacks a wide variety of host trees forming galleries (Fig. 3), where she lays her eggs. Mature siblings inbreed inside galleries and the pregnant females leave to establish new galleries in the same host or nearby hosts; most wingless males, however, remain in maternal galleries.

The tiny beetles tunnel into host trees and spread the fungi that cause FD disease. Beetle larvae within the gallery in infected trees feed on the fungus, forming a symbiotic relationship between the fungus and beetle. Fusarium Dieback stops the flow of water and nutrients in over 48 susceptible tree species, which can lead to the death of individual branches or, in severe cases, an entire tree (Fig. 2).


External: A host tree’s visible response to disease varies among host species. Sugary exudate (also called a sugar volcano) (Fig. 4), staining (Fig. 5), gumming (Fig. 6), and frass (Fig. 7) are among symptoms that may be noticeable before the tiny beetles are found. The beetle’s entry holes, which are approximately 0.03 inches (0.85 mm) in diameter, can be located beneath or near the symptoms. Advanced fungal infections will eventually lead to branch dieback.

Fig.4. Sugar volcano symptoms on avocado.
Fig.4. Sugar volcano symptoms on avocado.
Fig.5. Staining symptoms on coast live oak.
Fig.5. Staining symptoms on coast live oak.
Fig.6 Gumming symptoms on Calpurnia aurea.
Fig.6 Gumming symptoms on Calpurnia aurea.


Internal: The fungi interrupt the transport of water and nutrients in branches of affected trees, leading to wood discoloration which can vary in color from brown to black. Shaving outer layer bark with a clean knife around beetle entry holes reveals obvious wood discoloration. Cross-sections of cut branches around affected areas show the extent of infection (Fig. 8).

These two beetles and their symbiotic fungi have a wide variety of suitable hosts. This wide host range makes landscape, native riparian, oak woodland, and mixed evergreen communities highly susceptible to invasion and mortality by PSHB/KSHB-FD.

Management on Landscape Trees

Chemical and biocontrol management strategies are currently being investigated for this pest-disease complex. Early detection of infestation and removal of the infested branches will help reduce vector populations and the spread of this pest-disease complex.

If you or your customers suspect PSHB or KSHB is affecting trees in your area, please contact your local Agricultural Commissioner’s office or UC Cooperative Extension office.

Cultural/Sanitation Practices

The removal of the heavily infested reproductive hosts will help reduce vector populations and the spread of this pest-disease complex.

  • Chip infested wood onsite to a size of one inch or smaller. If the branch is too large to chip, solarize them under a clear tarp:
  • Have wood chips composted at a professional composting facility that has earned the U.S. Composting Council’s Seal of Testing Assurance at: Sterilize pruning tools with either 5% household bleach, Lysol cleaning solution, or 70% ethyl alcohol to prevent the spread of the pathogens through pruning tools
  • Avoid movement of infested wood and chipping material out of infested areas unless the material is covered or contained during transport.
  • Transport wood or chips to a biogeneration facility (biogeneration facilities burn green waste and convert it into energy).
  • Transport wood or wood chips to a landfill where it will be used as Alternative Daily Cover.
    • July – August: cover chips/logs with sturdy plastic for at least 6 weeks. Temperatures during these months should be regularly above 95°F (35°C)
    • September – June: cover chips/logs with sturdy plastic for at least 6 months

For more information, visit the UC Riverside Eskalen Lab website ( or



Photo from


Originally posted in the Ceres Courier

The Ceres Garden Club celebrated an overwhelming turnout of volunteers on Saturday to plant Red Maple trees in parks and neighborhoods. The planting of the free trees was made possible by a grant administered by CalFire through the California Initiative to Reduce Carbon and Limit Emissions (CIRCLE).

“Never has a project touched so many within the community in such positive way,” commented Garden Club president Berni Hendrix. “Homeowners were touched with volunteers coming onto their property to help them plant the trees. Neighbors were touched by neighbors working together to make their neighborhood healthier with added landscape beautification.”

Volunteers included students of all ages, Boy Scouts, parents, grandparents, and volunteers from neighborhoods receiving trees and many from neighborhoods who did not receive trees.

The effort started last summer when members of the Ceres Garden Club walked door-to-door to offer trees to residents in neighborhoods selected by the Ceres Public Works Department. Residents not only had to grant permission for the planting but signed a statement saying they would accept responsibility to water the young tree with a minimum of 10 gallons per week for the first three years.

The objective of the CalFire Grant is to plant more trees to filter the air rendering it cleaner and healthier to breath. As a bonus is the increased property value for the homeowner, greater curb appeal in beautifying the community, and energy reduction for home heating and cooling costs from shade. The non-profit club received a donation from the grant for doing the legwork for securing the signed watering agreements, said Hendrix.

The trees became the property of the city, and are planted within the public utility easement that stretches 10 feet from the sidewalk.The city maintains the city trees located in neighborhoods and parks through a contract with professional arborists. Under contract with the city, West Coast Arborists employees were on hand Saturday to instruct volunteers on the proper method to plant the young trees.

Local professional certified arborist Daniel Bote of Ceres volunteered over 50 hours with the club to walk door-to-door getting agreements signed. Bote also paid his staff from Central Valley Trees and Landscape Services to participate in the project. Additionally, Bote headed up a team of volunteers to plant trees on Saturday.

Ryan Thornberry, owner of California Landscape & Supply Nursery, also volunteered and planted trees.

Hendrix said her club “honors the community support and dedication” rendered by both California Landscape & Supply Nursery and Bote’s Central Valley Trees and Landscape Services as a preferred local business.

The efforts of Helen Condit, chairperson of the free tree project, are credited for the strong turnout for the tree planting. Her son, Channce Condit, served as co-chairman and organized teams to canvas the targeted neighborhoods.

Ted Hawkins, vice president of the Ceres Garden Club was the spokesperson at the Celebration ceremony.

The planting event on Saturday included dedication of one tree planted in Smyrna Park to the late youth baseball coach Luis Malagana who was fatally shot earlier this year.

Save Our Water And Our Trees! Campaign Offers Tips to Help Trees Thrive

image003Sacramento, CA – West Coast Arborists has partnered with California ReLeaf, Save Our Water, and a coalition of urban forest and other concerned organizations to raise awareness on the importance of proper tree care during this historic drought. Save Our Water is California’s official statewide conservation education program. California ReLeaf is a statewide urban forest nonprofit providing support and services to over 90 community nonprofits that plant and care for trees.

With potentially millions of urban trees at risk, this campaign focuses on a simple yet urgent message: Save Our Water and Our Trees! The Save Our Water and Our Trees partnership is highlighting tips for both residents and agencies on how to water and care for trees so that they not only survive the drought, but thrive to provide shade, beauty and habitat, clean the air and water, and make our cities and towns healthier and more livable for decades to come.

“While Californians cut back on water use during the drought, it is critical to community health to save our lawn trees by setting up alternative watering systems once you turn off the regular sprinklers,” said Cindy Blain, Executive Director of California ReLeaf.

Lawn trees can and must be saved during the drought. What you can do:

1.     Deeply and slowly water mature trees 1 – 2 times per month with a simple soaker hose or drip system toward the edge of the tree canopy – NOT at the base of the tree. Use a Hose Faucet Timer (found at hardware stores) to prevent overwatering.

2.     Young trees need 5 gallons of water 2 – 4 times per week. Create a small watering basin with a berm of dirt.

3.     Shower with a bucket and use that water for your trees long as it is free of
non-biodegradable soaps or shampoos.

4.     Do not over-prune trees during drought. Too much pruning and drought both stress your trees.

5.     Mulch, Mulch, MULCH! 4 – 6 inches of mulch helps retain moisture, reducing water needs and protecting your trees.

Trees in irrigated landscapes become dependent on regular watering and when watering is reduced – and especially when it’s stopped completely – trees will die. Tree loss is a very costly problem: not only in expensive tree removal, but in the loss of all the benefits trees provide: cooling and cleaning the air and water, shading homes, walkways and recreation areas as well as human health impacts.

“This summer it is vital that Californians limit outdoor water use while preserving trees and other important landscaping,” said Jennifer Persike, Deputy Executive Director of External Affairs and Operations, Association of California Water Agencies. “Save Our Water is urging Californians to Let It Go – GOLD this summer, but don’t forget to keep your trees healthy.”

Save Our Water has been urging Californians to “Let It Go” this summer by limiting outdoor water use and letting lawns fade to gold, while preserving precious water resources for trees and other important landscapes.

Save Our Water’s website is available in both English and Spanish and is filled with tips, tools, and inspiration to help every Californian find new and creative ways to conserve. From tips on how to keep trees healthy during the drought to an interactive section allowing users to visually explore how they can save water both inside and outside the home, Save Our Water has a wealth of resources available for Californians.


Artwork Emerges in Redwood Stump Carving at the Civic Center

Menlo Park

Originally posted here on June 13, 2015 at 11:16 pm by Clay Curtin

A large coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) tree in front of the Civic Center on Laurel Street was recently removed. The tree had a common disorder known as redwood canker, caused by the Botryospaeria pathogen. The coastal fog belt, which the coast redwood is endemic to, is an environment characterized by moderate summer temperatures and reliable fog, ample rainfall and well drained soils. Menlo Park is on the outside edge of the coastal fog belt where summer temperatures are high and soils tend to be predominantly poorly drained. The severity of the drought and growing outside the fog belt can lead to a higher occurrence of redwood canker in the city’s canopy. The tree at the Civic Center was replaced by three drought tolerant specimens. Instead of removing the stump, it was transformed into a piece of artwork by chain saw artist John Mahoney, who carved the city logo into it. Mr. Mahoney’s work can also be seen in a popular carving created last fall in Fremont Park. A time-lapse video of the redwood carving can be viewed here:

[leadplayer_vid id=”55883E0062A3F”]

La Cañada welcomes new resident to ‘Tree City USA’

tree planting
The city of La Cañada Flintridge celebrated Arbor Day by panting trees in front of the city's skate park on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. City officials including mayor David A. Spence, right, helped plant the Carrotwood tree. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / May 5, 2015)

The city of La Cañada Flintridge celebrated Arbor Day by panting trees in front of the city’s skate park on Tuesday, May 5, 2015. City officials including mayor David A. Spence, right, helped plant the Carrotwood tree.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / May 5, 2015)

In keeping with a tradition befitting an official “Tree City USA,” Mayor Dave Spence and other officials planted a tree Tuesday in a ceremony recognizing May 5 as Arbor Day in the city of La Cañada Flintridge.

The young carrotwood tree was one of three being planted that day near the city’s skate park on Cornishon Avenue as a symbol of a larger effort to encourage the planting and care of trees. A sturdy Australian native species, Cupaniopsis anacardioides was selected because the city’s map indicates Cornishon is where carrotwoods belong, said Gonzalo Venegas, the city’s facilities and maintenance superintendent.

As proof, Venegas pointed out the surrounding carrotwoods lining both sides of the street. About 10 years old now, they were also planted for the celebration, he said. Arbor Day was celebrated nationally on April 24.

For every tree planted in the annual gesture, the city plants hundreds more as part of the Arbor Day Foundation’s “Tree City USA” program, of which La Cañada has been a part for 27 years. In that time, a total of 21,500 trees have been planted locally, according to Evan Conklin, deputy forester for the Los Angeles County Forestry Division, who attended the event.

After reading a resolution recognizing the occasion, Spence joined City Manager Mark Alexander, Public Works Director Edward Hitti and other city staff in the ceremonial planting of the tree.

“It’s always a pleasure to plan and dedicate a tree in the benefit of the city and celebrating Arbor Day,” Spence remarked. “I urge all citizens to plan trees to gladden the hearts and preserve the well-being of present and future generations.”

City of Menlo Park – Chainsaw Carving Complete

City of Menlo Park

Chainsaw Carving Completed in Fremont Park

Original article by Clay Curtin – posted here – 

JOhn Mahoney Carving

Last month the Italian stone pine in Fremont Park was removed because it posed an imminent hazard due to root failure and a severe lean that gave the tree much of its unique character. Recently, the stump and two large pieces of the tree were repurposed by chainsaw artist, John Mahoney and the City’s tree crew leader, Juan Perez. Check out the time-lapse video below!

Over the next two weeks, the wood will be treated and sealed to reduce cracking as the wood dries out. Three new deodar cedar trees will be planted along the fence, to the east of the artwork. City staff is also working with the Menlo Park Historical Association to mark the rings on a cross section of the trunk to signify interesting dates in the City’s past.

Winds knock out power, stoke small brush fires near toll roads

OC Register Logo


Originally Posted Here in the Orange County Register.

Tree limbs and debris land on power lines, causing outages. Firefighters worked on blazes near 241 and 261 toll roads.

Orange County will remain under a red-flag fire warning through Thursday night as the area continues to be hammered by high winds, hot temperatures and dry conditions.

The warning means the county is ripe for brush fires, although no fires were reported Wednesday morning.

There were reports of scattered wind damage Wednesday throughout Orange County and at least one small brush fire.

The brush fire was reported at 12:35 p.m. near the Irvine Boulevard exit from the 261 toll road in Irvine, California High Patrol Officer John Latosquin said.

The fire is about 50 feet by 50 feet, and started out in a mulch pile on the east side of the toll road, said Capt. Shane Sherwood of the Orange County Fire Authority. No structures were threatened and the cause hadn’t been determined, he said.

The CHP shut down the northbound Irvine Boulevard exit from the 261 toll road just before 1 p.m. because of the fire. The closure was expected to remain in effect for 30 minutes.


Also Wednesday, a 50-foot-tall pine tree fell through the roof of an apartment in the 13000 block of Allard Avenue in Garden Grove about 10:45 a.m.

No one was injured, but the fallen tree caused substantial damage to the unit on the upper floor of the building, according to the Garden Grove Fire Department. Neighboring apartments were temporarily evacuated, and a city building inspector was en route to assess the structure.

“Fortunately, there was no one inside the second-floor apartment (under the tree),” Garden Grove Fire Department Capt. Tony Acosta said.

Acosta’s crew evacuated the floor of the apartment building where the tree fell.

Acosta said he was glad that there were no power lines involved because that would have posed another danger.

A crew with Anaheim-based West Coast Arborists working a few blocks away moved its boom trucks to the site and started cutting the tree from the building with chainsaws.

Acosta said a building inspector for the city of Garden Grove would check the structure for safety once the tree was removed.

Anaheim police also closed South Lewis Street between East Ball Road and Cerritos Ave. about 8 a.m. Wednesday because of a leaning power pole likely damaged by wind.

No one was injured, but the fallen tree caused substantial damage to the unit on the upper floor of the building, according to the Garden Grove Fire Department. Neighboring apartments were temporarily evacuated, and a city building inspector was en route to assess the structure.

“Fortunately, there was no one inside the second-floor apartment (under the tree),” Garden Grove Fire Department Capt. Tony Acosta said.

Acosta’s crew evacuated the floor of the apartment building where the tree fell.

Acosta said he was glad that there were no power lines involved because that would have posed another danger.

A crew with Anaheim-based West Coast Arborists working a few blocks away moved its boom trucks to the site and started cutting the tree from the building with chainsaws.

Acosta said a building inspector for the city of Garden Grove would check the structure for safety once the tree was removed.

Anaheim police also closed South Lewis Street between East Ball Road and Cerritos Ave. about 8 a.m. Wednesday because of a leaning power pole likely damaged by wind.

Orange County sheriff’s deputies also responded to scattered reports of downed power lines and burglar alarms set off by wind.

Two power poles were snapped by high winds at the intersection of Tustin Street and Meats Avenue in Orange about 9:50 a.m., prompting police to direct traffic, Lt. Eric Rosauer said.


Knott’s Berry Farm remained open Wednesday, but three rides were closed because of the winds. They are Surfside Gliders, Woodstock’s Airmail and Sky Cabin. Visitors can call the guest relations phone number to find out any ride-closure updates: 714-220-5200.

Disneyland and Disney California Adventure opened as normal at 10 a.m. Wednesday. One ride, Golden Zephyr at Disney California Adventure, was closed because of the winds, said Kevin Rafferty Jr., a Disneyland Resort spokesman.

As a red-flag precaution, the Orange County Fire Authority is staffing a water tender, one bulldozer and a 22-person hand crew, officials said.

“It’s just a matter of time before a fire starts and gets well established,” said Capt. Steve Concialdi of the Fire Authority. “That’s fire weather.”

Firefighters were working alongside the Irvine Ranch Conservancy and other volunteers to patrol wildland areas looking for any signs of a brush fire, he said.

Officials are also asking anyone who spots suspicious activity in wildland areas to call 911.


Wednesday was the second day of punishing winds in Orange County. On Tuesday, high winds downed power lines and trees and closed streets.

Trees caught fire Tuesday morning in Placentia after winds knocked down power lines, said Concialdi. The fires threatened six homes before firefighters knocked them down within minutes, he said.

Later in the afternoon, a car fire ignited thick vegetation on the side of the northbound 405 near Jamboree Road in Irvine, temporarily shutting down several freeway lanes. A tree that toppled in the wind in Santa Ana blocked West Edinger Street on Tuesday afternoon, causing heavy traffic there as well.

Strong Santa Ana winds will continue Wednesday with gusts ranging from 40 to 60 mph over foothills and valleys, according to the National Weather Service.

Wind gusts of 90 mph are also possible in some wind-prone foothills and valleys. A brief lull in the winds is forecast for Wednesday evening, followed by another strong wind surge that will continue through Thursday.

Winds will diminish Thursday night and into Friday, but humidity will remain low inland.

The spate of dry, hot weather means that April will end with some of the highest temperatures near the coast since 2012, said the Weather Service.


Newport Beach reached 92 on Tuesday, shattering the record high of 86 set on April 29, 1921. It was 95 Tuesday in Laguna Beach, beating a record of 92 in 1981.

The highs today will reach 94 near the coast and will range from 96 to 101 inland.

Thursday will be sunny with highs around 90 near the coast to 97 inland.

Staff writers Sarah Tully, Claudia Koerner and Bruce Chambers contributed to this report.

Contact the writer: 714-704-3795 or or Twitter: @thechalkoutline