Toppled tree tangles power lines; hits truck
Part of Hartselle was in the dark Monday afternoon, after heavy rain and wind toppled an oak tree on Main Street, snapping power lines.
The tree fell on the north side of Main Street, across from the historic Rosebud Cottage. It brought down power lines and narrowly missed the cab of a tractor-trailer rig.
"I heard the pop and it was coming down. It exploded when it hit the power lines and then hit the front bumper of the truck," driver Johnny Walker of Boaz said while surveying the damage caused by the massive tree limb.
The noon accident interrupted power from Morris Street to Roan Road on the east side of town until approximately 2:30 p.m.
Walker and fellow worker Kenneth Baird of Albertville were on their way to Danville to complete installation on a mobile home when the tree snapped and fell into the roadway.
"I guess we won't get to that today," Walker said.
Skid marks on the highway extended more than 30 feet where Walker tried to avoid the limb. The truck came to a rest across both lanes of Highway 36, blocking traffic for more than an hour.
Hartselle police diverted traffic to Hickory St. during clean up and repair work.
Hartselle Fire Chief Rickey Joe Smith said a similar, though less dramatic, incident happened last year in the same area.
"It was on the same side of the street and (the tree) fell onto a house," Smith said. "Several years ago a limb fell into the street during a storm and a driver ran over it because she see it because it was raining so hard."
That area of East Main is lined by aging trees that tower over utility lines, traffic and homes.
Hartselle Utility electric department supervisor Doug Keel said the utility has crews working to keep the trees trimmed on a year-round basis, but encounter downed limbs and trees whenever there is foul weather.
"We had limbs on lines on Bethel, Lakewood and Hillcrest Monday."
Keel said the trees lining East Main are nearing the end of their expected life. "Everything has an expected time and a lot of those trees are getting close to theirs," he said.
Keel estimated that his crews have to trim or remove one tree on East Main each year.