Neighbor's tree smashes into Boise apartment complex

krodine@idahostatesman.comMarch 6, 2014 

Battalion Chief Jim Gross describes the accident March 6, 2014.


Two Boise brothers got a classic rude awakening Thursday afternoon when a massive tree, hollowed by rot, fell onto their second-floor apartment on North Liberty Street.

The tree, which stood in front of Larry Cowles' home at 1400 N. Liberty, toppled onto the adjacent Central Pointe apartment complex about 2:15 p.m., Boise firefighters said.

The tree cleaved the roof, "busted up all the trusses in the attic" and knocked ceilings down, Battallion Chief Jim Gross said.

Gross estimated the tree, possibly a silver maple, was about 6 feet in diameter, but when it fell it revealed all but a few inches of that space was hollow.

"We were joking that a bird landed on a branch, and that was it," Gross said.

Owner Cowles said he recently got a $2,000 bid from a tree-trimmer to cut the tree back. "But of course none of us knew it was like that," he said, gesturing toward the jagged, rotten stump.

The brothers were asleep on the opposite side of the apartment when the tree fell, Gross said. They were shaken up but not injured, he said. Branches from the toppled tree partially blocked the residents' exit from their apartment and they were wary of going down those stairs, he said. So firefighters extended a ladder to the apartment window and the brothers climbed out.

The Red Cross will help the men find lodging while their apartment is restored, Gross said. None of the other apartments at Central Pointe appeared to be damaged, he said.

Cowles wasn't home when his tree collapsed, but a Central Pointe resident who declined to give his name said "it sounded like a bunch of big boulders coming off the side of the roof."

What's next? A cleanup crew was expected later Thursday afternoon, and then work can begin to restore the apartment, Gross said.

Trees smashing into buildings isn't unusual in Boise, he said.

"It happens every once in a while," Gross said. "We are the City of Trees."

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