Tree Crushes Ramona Home

By Mari Payton
|  Monday, Feb 8, 2010  |  Updated 7:32 PM PDT
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Tree Crushes Ramona Home

Neighbors blame San Diego Gas & Electric for causing the tree to crash down.
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A huge oak tree destroyed a home near Ramona Sunday and neighbors blame San Diego Gas & Electric for causing the tree to crash down.

For the last seven years, the Lehr family has lived in a little house among the oak trees. Then, a 150-year old tree, estimated to be about 30 feet tall, crashed on the home and destroyed it.

Firefighters were called to Fernbrook Drive near San Vincente Lake Road Sunday afternoon.

"I heard a rumble, I looked out the window and just watched the thing fall in slow motion onto the house," said neighbor Harry Hegelsen.

SDG&E crews had cut power lines from a pole fastened to the old tree and to the home. The move was done after the Lehrs had raised concerns with the utility and with their insurance company that they feared the tree would topple.

The rain softened up the soil so the roots didn't have anything to grab onto according to neighbors.

Homeowner Tim Lehr said his family was told by inspectors to leave the home because it was not safe.

The Lehr's neighbor, Rick Morgal said cutting the power lines was a disastrous move. "They came out this morning and at 10:30 a.m. cut the lines and when they did, the last line when it was cut, the tree fell," he said.

Morgal also said SDG&E recently trimmed the oak and helped create the situation. "The tree was heavily cut on one side and not cut at all on the other side," said Morgal.

An SDG&E spokesperson called the damage "a sad and unfortunate incidence." The company does take responsibility for cutting down the lines but say other factors, like Mother Nature, contributed to the incident.

The Lehr family had to cancel their daughter's 7th birthday party but they're just glad that they weren't home at the time of the crash and that no one was injured.

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