SF to inspect for hazards at Golden Gate Park after 5 cars crushed by large tree

There are 131,000 trees in San Francisco's park system and 27,000 alone in Golden Gate Park, according to city officials.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2024
SF to inspect trees at Golden Gate Park after 5 cars crushed Monday
San Francisco Recreation and Parks will inspect for immediate hazards at Golden Gate Park after five cars were crushed by a large tree on Monday.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It's been more than 24 hours since this nearly 100-foot tall, 80-year-old eucalyptus was fully uprooted and fell onto five vehicles at the Golden Gate Park Monday afternoon. Eleven people were trapped in their cars, including children. We wanted to know more about trees in San Francisco and what could have gone wrong with the one that fell.

Rick Wee says he haw the tree "in slow motion and it literally came down on my roof."

Visitors to Golden Gate Park Tuesday were still in disbelief.

VIDEO: 'Are we dead?': Family describes terrifying moment large tree crushed cars in SF's Golden Gate Park

Arborists worked for hours to remove a massive tree that came crashing down in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park Monday, damaging five cars and causing 11 people to be rescued.

Gina Rinetti, a San Francisco resident says "it was so shocking and devastating." She says she stopped walking when the rain was heavy during recent storms and didn't go to the park then. Now? "I really need to be careful," she added.

Frank Vasquez, president of Vasquez Arbor Care, says eucalyptus are not native to California and have always posed challenges.

"The tree is very heavy, top heavy and their root system is shallow so it doesn't come to a surprise for many arborists when they hear of a eucalyptus failure," Vasquez says.

He says failure though can happen no matter the age of a tree or species.

"The challenge with climate change and increasing winds we haven't received before and storms," Vasquez says.

Vasquez believes proper pruning is key.

MORE: Peninsula resident creating task force to tackle tree removal

"By taking off weight of the branches - we say creating windows in a tree - it allows wind to go through trees and not put pressure on branches, you don't have the result of breakage of limbs," he says.

According to San Francisco Recreation and Parks, there are 131,000 trees in the city's park system and 27,000 alone in Golden Gate Park.

The city tells ABC7 News they'll be inspecting trees around Golden Gate Park to identify immediate hazards in the coming days.

They note, their tree crew consists of just 25 people.

So while it's impossible to avoid the nearly 700,000 trees citywide, Vasquez says it's all about being on the defense.

"Same thing with humans and trees, so many of us don't know what's going on inside of us," he says. "Is there decay in the tree, or the root system, unless you excavate. Things can happen randomly with any tree. So the only thing you can do is preventative care."

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