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Eucalyptus tree falls near Murphy Hall, damages cars

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A towering eucalyptus tree fell across a street on the UCLA campus Thursday afternoon, damaging several cars. There were no injuries.

The tree fell across Charles E. Young Drive East toward Murphy Hall. The debris was quickly cleaned up but the street will remain closed until Friday afternoon while a nearby tree is removed, said Jerry Markham, director of operations for the facilities management department. Campus trees are regularly inspected for signs of stress, but the fallen tree’s problems came from underground, Markham said.

“It appears the tree has root rot, which was not evident from above-ground observation,” Markham said. “We will be re-inspecting other trees in the area and will discuss removal of any additional trees with our arborist.”

The tree that fell is estimated to be about 60 years old. The second tree, which facilities management employees believe has a similarly damaged root system, is probably around the same age.

Trees are part of UCLA’s natural beauty, but the department must balance their beauty with safety. “You can’t always tell by looking at these trees how stressed they are,” said Kelly Schmader, assistant vice chancellor of facilities management. “Some of these trees were original to the campus and were here before we were, and we have a lot of trees that are suffering from the drought. We regularly assess the state of these trees and call in a consulting arborist when we suspect a tree is stressed.”

John Guarino, assistant to the vice chancellor for finance, budget and capital programs, was in his office in Murphy Hall when he heard loud cracking sounds and then a final boom. “It sounded like bricks falling,” he said. “I asked one of my coworkers, ‘Did you hear that?’”

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