ITEM PHOTO BY OWEN O’ROURKE
Power lines were downed after a tree fell onto a single-family home at 14 Roy St.
By GAYLA CAWLEY
SWAMPSCOTT — A large tree toppled onto a Roy Street home on Tuesday afternoon, causing major damage to its front awning and roof, downing power lines and knocking out electricity on the street, but the residents weren’t injured.
Firefighters and police responded to the scene at 14 Roy St., shortly after 3 p.m.
Swampscott Fire Capt. Graham Archer said it looked like the tree may have been compromised, which may have contributed to it coming down, along with snow weight and wind from Winter Storm Stella.
“I guess the age of the tree and the wind brought it down,” Archer said.
Lester Otero, 35, said he lives there with his family of five, including his three children. He said he was home when the tree came down, and that it scared him and his family. He said they were waiting to learn whether they could remain there or would have to find somewhere to go for the night.
“Everything’s OK,” Otero said. “Nothing happened inside the house.”
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Archer said the tree caused structural damage to the single-family home. He said the roof and awning were taken out by the tree, but it didn’t appear to go through any part of the home. He said the side of the house, apart from the awning, was still intact, along with the rest of the dwelling.
“We do have the building inspector coming down for his assessment, but as far as we’re able to see, the house should still be able to be occupied,” Archer said. “The damage doesn’t look that bad.”
Gino Cresta, department of public works director, said about two hours after the incident that National Grid came and took the wires. The street was also opened up. He said DPW crews would be able to clean up the tree by Thursday, as they also have to work to clear out from the rest of the winter storm damage. He said it was a relatively healthy town tree that came down, but there had been no issues or complaints about it before.
The tree damaged several electrical services to homes, and knocked out power in the immediate area. Archer said he expected power to be restored within several hours of the crash.
In addition, Archer said the car in the driveway of 18 Roy St. was also heavily damaged, when the tree toppled on top of it. The residents, a couple living with their young son, declined to give their names or comment, but did say their car was the one damaged.
Jeremy Clay, 40, a neighbor, said he was upstairs in his home when he heard a pole crack. He looked out the window and saw it coming down.
“I just heard a loud crack here and then I heard some scratching and saw all of the wires coming down and hit the front of this building here,” Clay said about the Otero home.
He said the power went off, and predicted that it would be out for three days. He said the tree had been an issue before it came down.
“This tree is rotted out,” Clay said. “It’s rotted all the way to the center. It shouldn’t even have been there. I think the city should have cut it down before now.”
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Neighbor Belkis Cabrera, 59, said she was hoping the trunk of the tree could be moved so crews could fix the wires. Luckily, she said, the power outage wasn’t an immediate concern for her and her family.
“Our computers were charged and our laptops,” she said. “We’re watching movies for now. Thank God I cooked early because we have an electric stove, so I cooked early, being a grandma. It’s kind of scary because it’s dangerous.”
Earlier in Lynn, about a three-minute drive away, a large tree branch fell onto a two-family home at 26 Melvin Ave., puncturing the roof and going into the attic, according to Lynn District Fire Chief Tim Collier. The incident occurred around 2:30 p.m.
District Fire Chief Stephen Archer said two second-floor residents were home, a man and a woman. The first-floor residents were not home at the time, he said.
Stephen Archer said the building inspector was notified and the tree would have to be removed before a determination could be made on whether the building is habitable.
Gayla Cawley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @GaylaCawley.