Less than a quarter of the tree trunk was left and its bark sheared off after lighting struck the 150-foot-tall redwood tree. It happened Monday morning and the homeowner said she's amazed her and her dog are still alive.
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Downtown San Mateo restaurant owner Simone Nguyen had just taken her 5-year-old dog "Gogo" out to the yard when the sky suddenly turned red. Then there was a bolt of lightning that struck the redwood.
"I thought it was a bomb or something, and it immediately hit the tree, my tree. It went really fast. The flare hit the tree, and I saw my tree... it flew up. It didn't fall down, but it flew up to the sky," Nguyen.
And when the crown of the tree fell back to earth, it sent shards everywhere -- some of them so large and so sharp, it could have impaled them, but they escaped harm.
It could have been even worse. A large chunk of the tree flew through a bedroom window and landed where Nguyen had been sleeping.
"I went into my bedroom. I saw a big piece of wood that sat on my bed, and I said, 'Thanks God, you saved me. Either I'm here, I'm gone. I'm in my bed. If tucked in today, I'd die, too," Nguyen said.
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There is plenty of broken glass inside. Outside, large parts of the trunk landed on the roof and in neighbors' yards. The fragments splintered and their ends are as sharp as a spear.
Friends of Nguyen says she is very fortunate.
"I think this is a very close call. I think as long as she is OK today, I'm like, that's her second chance in life," Moon Pham, a close friend, said.
Gogo is still trembling from the ordeal. Nguyen says they thank God and Buddha for sparing their lives.
As violent as Mother Nature can be, she atoned for the destruction by painting the sky with a rainbow.
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