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Giant Tree Branch Falls on Capitol Hill, Closes Street

by Andrew Ramonas May 8, 2015 at 1:45 pm 0

Tree branch

(Updated at 4:05 p.m.) A large branch from a red oak crashed to the ground on Maryland Avenue NE this afternoon, closing the street.

The branch, which completely blocked traffic on the 300 block of Maryland Avenue for part of the afternoon, fell about 12:30 p.m., a witness said. No injuries were reported, according to U.S. Capitol Police.

The debris from the tree spread across all six lanes of the street, but only appeared to cause minimal, if any, damage to nearby parked cars.

Ross Swimmer, a 71-year-old retiree, said he heard what sounded like a “crack of lightning,” when he was working outside his house near the tree.

“All of the sudden, it just fell,” he said. “Just in a second.”

Swimmer’s neighbor, Severino Mendoza, said he was driving back from a hardware store to help Swimmer and was lucky to miss the fall.

Mendoza, an 83-year-old retiree, said he “could have gotten killed.”

Steve McKindley-Ward, an arborist with the District Department of Transportation’s Urban Forestry Administration, said the tree showed “no warning, no signs” that it would lose a branch. The tree is probably 100 to 150 years old, said McKindley-Ward, who came to Maryland Avenue after the branch fell.

“This occasionally happens,” he said.

The street reopened to traffic about 4 p.m.

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