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Winds down tree; fire risk growing
Riverton city employees Darrell Hardtke and Robert Crippen set a street closure sign at the intersection of South Fifth Street East and Monroe Avenue in Riverton after a cottonwood tree fell across the street during high winds Wednesday afternoon. Photo by Wayne Nicholls

Winds down tree; fire risk growing

Jun 20, 2013 - By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

The National Weather Service office issued a hazardous weather outlook Thursday for the Wind River Basin, where dry and breezy conditions are expected to increase the risk of fire into early evening.

The windy weather began on Wednesday with gusts that reached 46 miles per hour according to the NWS. Riverton streets and alleys supervisor Paul Throckmartin said one particularly strong breeze knocked over an aging cottonwood tree on East Monroe Avenue.

"It was rotten in the interior," Throckmartin said of the tree. "The wind came out of the east and dropped a piece ... across the street."

The large branch damaged a street light and a nearby fence and blocked traffic at the intersection of East Monroe Avenue with South Fifth Street East, Throckmartin said. City crews were called to clear the area at about 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

"The trees are the property owners' responsibility, (but it's) our responsibility ... to try to get the street open," Throckmartin said.

Cedar Mountain Tree and Lawn Care responded to assist, cutting the large tree into smaller pieces so city workers could remove the debris in trucks. Municipal employees left by 5:30 p.m., but Throckmartin said they returned Thursday morning to make sure the road was accessible for traffic.

Cedar Mountain stayed in the area Wednesday evening to work on the rest of the tree, Throckmartin added.

"They (trimmed) it to where it wouldn't come down on top of the house or on power lines," Throckmartin said. "(The homeowner) is in the process of getting the tree taken down."

The property belongs to Lenora and David Davis, who have lived on the property for six years.

The cottonwood has been there much longer according to Throckmartin.

"It was a huge tree," he said. "I've been here 37 years, and that tree was big when I moved here."

He was glad the branch, which made up about one-third of the tree, didn't cause more damage.

"If the wind caught it just right ... it could've been on her house (or) ripped power lines down," Throckmartin said. "It could have been worse."

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