First responders rescue Castro Valley man pinned under eucalyptus tree that crashed through house

ByAnser Hassan KGO logo
Sunday, January 8, 2023
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CASTRO VALLEY, Calif. (KGO) -- Tense moments arose in Castro Valley Saturday afternoon as neighbors watched firefighters rescue a man who was pinned under a massive eucalyptus tree that fell into his house.

"There was a very loud explosion, a rumble. My first thought was an earthquake. And the power went off," said Michelle Austin, who has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years. She helped comfort the man's wife as her husband was being rescued.

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"The gentleman that was stuck, was stuck on the couch. And the tree was being supported by part of the walls of the home and part of the couch. So they were being very careful about securing the surrounding environment," Austin said.

"First company arrived on scene and found house cut in half by a large eucalyptus," says Battalion Chief Kent Carlin with the Alameda County Fire Department.

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Carlin said the tree probably weighs between 150 and 200 tons. He says it took his crews almost an hour to free the man.

"We were able to do a lift to of some of our equipment to give some relief to pull him out. We did have two cranes on scene. Luckily, we didn't have to use them," he said.

Some residents say they have complained to the city about the massive trees that run along a creek behind these homes and the threat of them falling.

Jason Rogers grew up on this street. He and his father came to see the damage.

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"This house is split in half! It's shocking. But there are so many eucalyptus trees behind these homes, and so tall and massive and they just sway. It was only a matter of time before, I guess, this happened," Rogers said.

Austin stayed on until the man was taken away by ambulance to Eden Medical Center.

"If he hadn't been on the couch right where he was, or if the whole family had been there, it could have been a lot worse," she says.

Battalion Chief Carlin says the wife and four kids were able to get out safely. The father did suffer injuries to his legs, but Carlin doesn't know the extent of the injuries.