Tree falls, narrowly avoids destroying house by inches

by Tori Hamby

At 3 a.m. on a warm May night, Star Creek heard a loud thump outside of her Mountain Island home, near the I-485 bridge.

Although the noise wasn’t loud enough to awaken her young sleeping children, Zac and Lee, she peered outside. She was stunned to see a tree, with an estimated height of at least 40 feet and circumference of more than 6 feet, had fallen in her front yard, only scraping her home’s gutter. The family estimated the tree was more than 100 years old.

“We’re lucky,” Creek said. “The way it was angled, if it were any taller, it would have destroyed our house.”

The tree’s trunk had begun to split during a violent thunderstorm a couple of months prior. However, on the night the tree fell, the air was still and the weather peaceful, making the event’s timing fairly unexpected.

“We knew that it was probably going to fall, but we figured it would probably be on a night with another bad storm,” Star said. “I didn’t know what to do. I guess it fell down before we got the chance to cut it down. We didn’t think it would happen so soon.”

Star’s sister, Raven Smith, said the family had several friends and family members visit the house for her brother-in-law Nate Creek’s 30th birthday party the weekend before.

“We were lucky in so many ways,” Smith said. “It didn’t do much damage to the house, and it didn’t fall when we had all those people over. It was a close call.”

Heather Bacon, a family friend who was sleeping in an RV in the couple’s backyard at the time the tree fell, said the crash sounded surprisingly quiet.

“That night I heard a crackling noise and a thump. It wasn’t as loud as you think it would have been.”

Armed with chainsaws, handsaws and the labor of fellow family members and friends who pitched in, the family spent much of the next day chopping the tree up, branch by branch, and hauling the pieces into their backyard to store as firewood.

“I’d say we have about three to five years worth of firewood,” guessed Nate Creek.

The couple’s son, Zac, had a guess of his own.

“No, I think we have enough for a 100 years,” Zac said.

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