Family friend felled in Port Angeles: Giant sequoia tree taken down after windstorm tops it
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The top of a sequoia tree at 708 S. Francis St. in Port Angeles is lowered to the ground by crane after being cut from its trunk, seen at left, Wednesday. A crew from Sitkum Tree Service removed the top after it was damaged by gusty winds last weekend. — Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News

By Leah Leach
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — A 90-year-old giant sequoia tree described as a family friend was cut down this week after last weekend’s windstorm tore off the top, leaving a 3,800-pound portion hanging precariously over a house.

It hurt to take down the giant tree that measured 9 feet around at the trunk and stood 60 feet tall, said Lonnie Linn, a Port Angeles School Board member and sales employee at Angeles Millwork & Lumber Co.

“We raised three kids with that tree,” which had served as the home of several treehouses, he said, adding that his youngest child is now 35.

“It’s been part of the family for a long time,” he added.

“It was tough to watch it come down.”

It was necessary, though, said Conor Haggerty, owner of Sitkum Tree Service and an arborist certified with the International Society of Arboriculture, whose firm removed the tree at 708 Francis St.

Lonnie and LoAnn Linn called the tree service after high winds tore off two of the tree’s four tops, which were each about 20 feet long.

One fell to the ground and didn’t damage anything, Haggerty said.

The other — which Lonnie Linn said weighed 3,800 pounds — was suspended above the house 9 feet away.

Examination showed that between 30 percent and 40 percent of the tree’s interior was rotted, Haggerty said.

“There was so much rot, I could stand inside the cavity,” he said.

Lonnie Linn said the original plan was to try to save the tree, “but once the rot was found in the middle of the tree, we decided to bring it all down.”

Work began at about 10 a.m. Wednesday and lasted all day as the tree was disassembled using a 38-ton crane from Admiralty Crane of Carlsborg.

The average weight of each pick with the crane was 3,200 pounds, Haggerty said, with the largest section weighing 8,600 pounds.

He said it was the largest tree, in terms of diameter, that he had ever removed.

The remains of the giant, a Sequoiadendron giganteum native to California’s Sierra Nevada, were taken to Hermann Bros. Logging & Construction Inc.

The wood will be used as waste for biomass burning.

“There was so much rot that there was no way to use the wood,” Haggerty said.

“Every time we take down a tree, we try to repurpose the wood in a positive way, whether it be as basic as firewood or wood chips,” he explained.

“In this situation, I had planned to try to salvage as much as I could, but when I cut the first section away and saw all the rot, I knew it was useless.”

Now, all that is left of the tree is a large stump — and a surprisingly sunny yard, Lonnie Linn said.

The tree, which was only about 30 feet tall when the Linns moved into the house 34 years ago, had blocked the sunlight from a large area.

“We had shade plants there. They probably aren’t going to make it now,” he said.

He and his wife hadn’t yet made plans by Thursday for the space once filled and affected by the tree.

“We’re still adjusting to the fact that the sun gets back there,” he said.

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Managing Editor/News Leah Leach can be reached at 360-417-3531 or at leah.leach@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 20. 2014 7:47PM
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