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Tree safety tips after massive oak trees damage property in Tampa Bay area – WFLA

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HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Strong storms are the norm in the Tampa Bay area and large Live oak trees fell recently, causing significant damage, but a local arborist said there are key signs help spot unhealthy trees.  

Two massive Live oaks came crashing down in Clearwater Tuesday and in Seminole Heights on the 4th of July, damaging homes and smashing vehicles. 

Frank Roder, owner of the home that was damaged in Seminole Heights said he believes lightning struck the tree, which is one of the largest in the neighborhood. 

“We found some paperwork when the house was built 100 years ago, there was talk about it being built under this grand ole oak tree, so God knows how old that tree was,” Roder said. 

He isn’t 100 percent sure that lightning was the sole cause but he said the tree appeared to be healthy. 

Landscapers in Clearwater said the tree that toppled over there likely fell due to unseen issues with the root system rooting away. 

"They decay through age, disease or really a lot of rain and soft soil,” said Greg Chew with Good Views Garden and Landscape. 

Hillsborough County forester Rob Northrop is encouraging homeowners to hire a certified arborist to check large trees. 

He also said there are key signs a homeowner could look for.

"If you see vertical cracks in the tree, those are actually a tearing of a fabric within the wood. That means that the tree has twisted and come apart some," Northrop said.

"If you see fungal bodies like mushrooms at the bottom of your tree, that's in fact an indication that there is a fungus in your tree.”

Northrop also said trees need room to grow. 

"The roots go out three times the distance of the canopy,” he said. 

He said anyone thinking about removing a large tree in Hillsborough County must check to see if a permit is required. 

Northrop said sometimes the county would send an arborist to determine if the tree is healthy and offer alternatives to the homeowner. 

The county will hold a second workshop to help homeowners be sure their trees are ready to endure the rest of hurricane season. 

The workshop is set for July 25 at 10 a.m. at the Tampa Garden Club on Bayshore Boulevard.

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