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If a tree falls on a home, it does make a sound

Century-old Medford oak awakens family with a resounding 'earthquake' crash

Betty Worthen had a rude awakening Wednesday.

I was in bed, sound asleep, said the 70-year-old woman, who lives in a house on West Jackson Street with her son, daughter-in-law, and grandson. She said she was awakened by a loud boom, which at first she thought was a car hitting her house.

It was no car, she soon realized, but a century-old oak tree, which, until about 7:20 a.m., had stood sentry over her family's home.

What an alarm clock, said Worthen.

A massive oak tree on West Jackson Street in Medford crashed early Wednesday, taking out the family's carport and car, and damaging the roof of the house, as well as the neighbor's roof.

The biggest blessing is nobody got hurt, said Worthen's 46-year-old son, Tommy Worley, who had already left for work by the time the tree fell.

The fire department came out and made us get out of the house, said his wife, Elizabeth Worley, 47. She was relieved to find that their 26-year-old son also had already left for the day.

It felt like an earthquake, she said.

Tommy Worley said the tree has withstood strong winds over the years, and he was surprised by its demise on a calm morning.

He said in recent years he's worked with arborists removing mistletoe from the tree, and they said it was in good shape. It's been a very healthy, vibrant tree.

Clarence Wangle, a certified arborist who operates Beaver Tree Service in Central Point, arrived and took one look and said he'd pull his crew off another job to remove the old tree.

It could easily be 100 years old, said Wangle.

He said the most common tree problems in Medford are with oak trees.

Green lawns and oak trees just don't do good together.

He said people often mistakenly assume that as long as the tree has leaves, everything's all right.

He said it's important for property owners to know how to spot hazardous trees, and to have an arborist assess trees that may show signs of things like root rot.

A tree can have extensive root rot, and be a threat to a house, and still have green leaves.

Lots of leaves are not necessarily the sign of a healthy tree, said Wangle.

Repair costs and insurance coverage for the family are expected to be determined later in the week.

How to spot a hazardous tree

Clarence Wangle, owner of Beaver Tree Service, said if residential trees have any of these issues, property owners should contact a certified arborist for a professional assessment:

Check to see if the tree is loaded with mistletoe.

If the tree is beside a sidewalk, often the root zone is compromised.

Leaning trees can be hazardous, especially those that lean toward a house.

Mushrooms growing on the base of a tree can be a sign of root rot.

If the roots are white, that can be a sign of root rot.

Most trees that are topped become hazardous within a couple years.

Clarence Wangle of Beaver Tree Service talks with resident Tommy Worley about removing a 100-year-old oak tree that toppled onto his family?s home on West Jackson Street Wednesday morning. Mail Tribune / Jim Craven - Mail Tribune Jim Craven