Arborist: Basswood trees are vulnerable to falls - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Arborist: Basswood trees are vulnerable to falls

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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) -

As friends and family members mourn the loss of an Eden Prairie woman who was killed by a falling tree while out on a walk with her dogs, FOX 9 News has learned the type that killed her is vulnerable to falls.

Although trees fall every day in Minnesota for a variety of reasons, people rarely get hit or injured in the process. That's part of what made the fall that killed 56-year-old Nina MacKay so shocking.

"It's so rare, it's probably less likely than getting struck by lightning," said Baird Johnson.

The 30-inch basswood tree, estimated to be 90 years old, has since been dismantled piece by piece. Sawdust and a mangled trunk are all that remains.

"It feels like balsa wood or Styrofoam," Johnson said. "It's clearly been hollowed out. Have you figured out what's been eating it?"

A look inside the trunk shows thousands of holes bored by bugs, and that clearly weakened the base of the tree. Furthermore, Arborist Dan Guida told FOX 9 News basswood trees are already prone to falls.

"The wood inside the tree is typically a little softer," Guida explained. "Because of the aggressive growth, it doesn't grow as strong."

Guida said basswoods are common in Minnesota, but they are also among the most vulnerable trees out there. In fact, Guida said that if any tree is going to fall over because of high winds, bugs or a rotting trunk, "the basswood is a very likely candidate."

Investigators say winds were blowing 23 mph when the tree fell, but they still have not determined exactly what caused it to come crashing down.

Crews are also looking at other trees in the Mitchell Lake area to see if any of them show signs of rotting or bug infestations.

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