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Essex St fallout zone a safety risk

The tree that fell on Saturday morning on Essex St. PHOTO/ALISON SUTHERLAND


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Trees along Essex St in Masterton have been labelled “accidents waiting to happen”, by a resident, who has witnessed a third tree topple over within the span of two weeks.

The Masterton street fell victim to strong wind gusts of 95kph when the town was thrashed from Friday night through to Saturday morning, causing two large trees to fall onto the street, one cutting power to surrounding residents.

These latest tree fallings come only two weeks after a large Pin Oak split at the western end of Essex St, falling onto the street, nearly striking a young driver on December 20.

The Masterton District Council said at the time, it may have been weakened by extremes of weather.

The fire service was called to the first tree that split outside the Masterton club on Friday night.

They were called again the following morning, at about 8am, when the other tree split – coincidentally, the one right beside the tree from the December 20 incident.

Alison Sutherland was out at her letterbox, collecting the Times-Age on Saturday morning when she heard a loud noise.

“[I] heard a huge cracking noise then saw a tree crash across the road and take out the powerlines on the other side,” she said.

“This is the tree on the eastern side of the one that went a week or two ago.”

The tree looked “dried out” at the split, she said.

“I’d say that these trees have met their use by date and I wouldn’t be surprised if more start to go, unless the council take the weight off them — it really is a serious accident in the making.”

The tree went down “so hard and so quick”, anyone caught under it would not have a chance, she said.

This incident came three days after a woman died after being struck by a falling tree in Rotorua.

The strongest wind gusts in Masterton was about 90kph at 6am on Saturday and again at 8am, according to Metservice.

In the aftermath of the tree that fell on December 20, Masterton District Council community facilities and activities manager Andrea Jackson said that the fallen pin oak on December 20 had been well maintained, was not top heavy, and had no sign of “significant rot.”

She also revealed a tree removal programme had started in Essex Street four years ago but had been abandoned after complaints from a resident.

“However, when a tree suddenly dries out this can cause a weakness and it can be prone to sudden shear. Given an overly wet winter and now an extremely dry summer, we cannot rule this out,” she said.



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