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Tree falls, crushes playground swings near Memorial Arch

September 27, 2018
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Playground equipment was damaged when a tree fell on it Tuesday at Memorial Park in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — A Huntington park official is not sure what caused a large tree to uproot, fall over and crush nearby playground equipment near the Memorial Arch on Tuesday morning.

“Thankfully no one was hurt,” said Scott Miller, maintenance supervisor for the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District.

It was between approximately 9:30 and 10:30 a.m. when the tree fell at Memorial Park, knocking down some swings on a nearby playground. It’s unclear what caused the tree to fall, but Miller does not believe adverse weather or wind played a factor. The tree had been worked on before and “was in pretty good shape,” he said.

Trees within Huntington’s parks aren’t given thorough inspections but are routinely checked to make sure branches are pruned and the tree isn’t at risk for falling. The city regularly works with tree cutters, he said. An adult swing and a few children’s swings would need to be replaced after being crushed in the fall.

No one was there when the tree fell, he said. The park is located at 1300 West 11th Ave., west of the Memorial Arch.

Crews were clearing off the park by Tuesday evening and had cordoned off the area. They also closed off access to a nearby pedestrian and bicycle path along the Paul Ambrose Trail For Health, connecting the area to Harveytown Park.

However, the tree falling wasn’t the end of Tuesday’s woes, Miller said.

Miller said a maintenance worker had pulled over to use the restroom when someone walked up and stole a Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District truck filled with equipment. Huntington police are investigating.

The maintenance worker had left the keys in the truck for less than four minutes before it was taken, he said.

Though the cause of the fallen tree is not thought to be weather related, the potential for fallen trees is increased with wet weather. The National Weather Service has issued a flash flood watch for the greater Huntington area until Wednesday afternoon.

According to NWS meteorologist Mike Kistner, a flash flood watch means the potential for a flash flood to happen is there but is not imminent. If the watch is upgraded to a warning, that means flash flooding will likely occur or is already occurring in the area.

A cold front will move into the area Wednesday morning, bringing more showers and thunderstorms with it. Kistner said Wednesday temperatures are expected to stay generally in the mid-70s, but falllike temperatures will settle between the mid-50s and upper 60s afterward, accompanied by drier weather by Thursday.

Travis Crum is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. He may be reached by phone at 304-526-2801.

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