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Experts Warn Homeowners To Beware Of Rotting Trees

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Tracey Leong joined WJZ Eyewitness News in July 2014 as a general...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A falling rotten tree killed one man and a different rotten tree severely injured another. Tree experts say these accidents are not always preventable.

Tracey Leong has the story.

They are rare accidents that can strike at any time. Even if you’re cautious, experts say you can’t predict the exact timing of a rotten tree falling.

A 75-year-old grandpa was killed Saturday in Woodbine when a rotten tree fell on him while he was grilling.

“If that tree had fallen in any other direction, we wouldn’t be here today and unfortunately the combination of those things occurred caused tragedy,” said Marc Fischer, Howard County Fire PIO.

A few days prior, a motorcycle rider was seriously injured Thursday in Pasadena when a rotten tree fell on him while he was riding—and a man living nearby wasn’t surprised.

“You can see they are rotted. Limbs are always falling off of them; they should take them down totally,” he said.

Even though people may recognize a decaying tree, experts say it’s not that simple.

“It could stand for another 50 years; it could fall tomorrow,” said Steve Sprague. “I can’t predict it, even with the expertise I possess.”

Sprague says it’s an unlucky occurrence.

“Generally they are referred to as an act of God,” Sprague said.

Tree experts recommend for homeowners to be proactive, to walk their properties three to four times a year and assess the health of their trees.

“Decay or rot on the exterior of the trunk or portions of the tree up higher,” Sprague said. “Also when a root system starts to fail, fungal fruiting bodies will appear on the top of the soil just above the roots.”

While spotting trouble zones may help, sometimes trees just fail.

“But you can’t just go through life looking at every tree in every location where you are at or being afraid that you are going to be struck by something,” Sprague said.

If you are concerned with the trees on your property, you can have a tree expert come out and take a look or if you notice rotten trees in the city or county area, you are encouraged to contact city or county services.

According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are about 200 tree-related deaths a year.

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