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Historic oak falls at Lanterman House

More than a century old, the 60-foot tree was one of many felled in La Cañada Flintridge by heavy weekend storm.

March 23, 2011|By Joe Piasecki, joe.piasecki@latimes.com
(Joe Piasecki/Valley…)

A towering oak tree that had stood for more than a century came crashing down this weekend onto the parking lot of the Lanterman House, the victim of heavy winds and rains that also felled a number of other large trees throughout La Cañada Flintridge.

The 60-foot-tall native oak had shaded most of the property’s south side and predated the Lanterman House, built in 1915, by decades, said Executive Director Melissa Patton.

“It’s a huge loss. I’m really upset about it,” Patton said Tuesday, when only a 15-foot segment of the tree’s massive trunk remained. “We have a lot of oaks on the property, but this one was the biggest. It certainly was here when the home was built.”

In addition to the iconic oak, at least half a dozen other trees fell around the city late Saturday night or early Sunday morning, including several that temporarily blocked streets, La Cañada Flintridge Facilities and Maintenance Superintendent Gonzalo Venegas said.

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“We got a call at 1:03 a.m. [Sunday] from L.A. County that four large trees had come down and were blocking streets,” said Venegas, who immediately called in five work crews from city contractors West Coast Arborists to clear parts of Verdugo Boulevard, Chevy Chase Drive and Commonwealth and Hillard avenues.

Crews also roped off a stretch of sidewalk along the north side of Foothill Boulevard just west of Ocean View Boulevard after three boulders were knocked loose from the hillside directly above.

Rainfall on Saturday night and Sunday came down with such force that Descanso Gardens was forced to cancel Sunday’s continuation of its much-anticipated Cherry Blossom Festival. Nearly 3,500 people had arrived Saturday for the first day of the event, said spokeswoman Jamie Bray.

Two trees on the Descanso grounds fell during the storm, said Bray, who added that the cherry blossom trees were unharmed and remain in bloom for visitors.

But for all the wet and wild weather, debris flow from Station fire burn areas was surprisingly minimal.

“There was a lot of water in the debris basins, but they still reported at less than 5% filled. That means they’re literally empty [of debris],” said L.A. County Department of Public Works spokesman Bob Spencer.

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