Bay Area fires: New tool for clearing burned trees is almost like science fiction

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Even as the Walbridge Fire still burns in the North Bay, crews are cleaning up along Mill Creek Road, a place where sadly damaged trees must fall in order to make this area safe.

Traditionally, downing trees means climbing them and banging away in buckets. It is intense and hazardous physical labor.

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So now, something new...the toughest, meanest, most efficient tree-felling machine ever devised by man -- the Sennebogen.

"It beats manual labor every day of the week," said Marcus Spurling, a Sennebogen operator for Atlas Tree and Landscape out of Santa Rosa. Sonoma County hired that company to clear hundreds of hazardous trees.

The company has four Sennebogens. The machines are new in these parts. What would take a man four hours, the machines can do in fewer than 30 minutes.

"It's definitely by far superior," said Spurling. "And safer. It keeps men out of the buckets."

The Sennebogen is like genetic selection for the perfect, adaptable, $600,000 dollar tree downing machine. Think Terminator. It extends 42 feet tall and then cuts through trunks in a couple of seconds. It can carry 13,000 pounds and stack stumps along the side of the road.

We asked Spurling if he would pay his company to do this, instead of the other way around. His answer? Diplomatic. "We call it the best carnival ride you'll ever be on."

Unless you're a burned tree, of course. If that's the case, at least your misery ends quickly and mercifully, the Sennebogen way.

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