LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — A Lexington family is grateful that no one was hurt when a tree came down on their property.
Crews were out along Central Avenue on Friday morning breaking down the tree that the couple believes is hundreds of years old. They say they heard a loud noise around midnight.
"We raced to a back window and, I mean, our jaws just hit the floor when we saw it," said homeowner Stephanie Hoelscher.
The tree came down, hitting the couple's detached garage and the apartment above it.
Someone was inside that apartment at the time. Firefighters came out and rescued the tenant through an upstairs window.
"You know the scary thing for me is, you live in these old downtown neighborhoods and these houses are so close together -- and all night just laying in bed thinking of all the different directions that this tree could have come down," said Hoelscher.
With two small children home at the time, the couple says they're thankful no one was hurt.
"I mean the fire department, one of the firefighters said, he thought this was the biggest tree he's ever seen come down in an ice storm," Hoelscher said. "I think we are so, so fortunate. I mean we personally are not, we have insurance, we'll rebuild, everybody was alive -- but I think we're fortunate in Lexington that it was more sleet and less ice because I think it would be a lot more of these situations."
Homeowners say that they believe it was the saturation of the ground's soil that caused this tree to uproot -- falling into their garage and the apartment home just above.
The couple says their tree wasn't the first to come down in the neighborhood. They say last year during rains and high winds, their neighbor also had a tree come down.
"Trees are living things and just like us, extra stress is harder on them," said Heather Wilson, Municipal Arborist with Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government.
After a storm like this one, Wilson says the city will come to remove any trees or limbs that impact roads or sidewalks, but not private property. She says there are several factors that determine if trees are stable.
"One, the species. Two, how they're cared for. And three, where they are in our urban system really plays a big role in how structurally sound they are," she said.
Homeowners with large trees are encouraged to contact arborists to take preventative measures and check on the health of their trees. This could prevent falls in big storms.
"When you contact your arborist, they can let you know that this tree is dead or hazardous and either do the pruning that would be necessary to mitigate or recommend a removal," Wilson said.