A tree came crashing through a Newark house Monday evening, trapping a woman under the debris for nearly half an hour while firefighters worked to stabilize the roof and rescue the victim.
The incident happened at 7:14 p.m. on Squirrel Lane in the Elan of Huntington Hills neighborhood off Barksdale Road.
High winds associated with thunderstorms that moved through the area brought down a tree onto the side of the house, according to Deputy Chief Jeff Sands, a spokesman for Aetna Hose, Hook and Ladder Company. He estimated the tree was 5 to 6 feet in diameter and said it snapped off about 20 feet up the trunk.
“Basically a big hunk of the tree and the roof collapsed down onto the kitchen area,” Sands said.
The damage trapped a 65-year-old woman, pinning her arm in an area that was initially inaccessible to rescuers, Sands said. Two children who were in the kitchen with her were not hurt and were able to escape.
“The whole roof over the kitchen, which is on the second floor, came down. She was trapped underneath that roof collapse. The floor was still intact, but the roof had just come down on her,” Sands said, noting that it appeared the kitchen table absorbed some of the blow of the tree, preventing the woman from further injury.
Newark Police arrived first and made contact with the woman, and firefighters arrived shortly after.
“We took some time to stabilize the roof collapse,” Sands said. “Obviously, it’s a concern that it’s going to further collapse in on her, so we want to try to stop any issues before we make it worse.”
Firefighters from Aetna and Christiana Fire Company used rescue struts to stabilize the roof.
“A couple of firefighters were able to basically tunnel in, cutting through roof rafters with the Sawzall and were able to get to her, help free her arm and then remove her,” Sands said, noting that the woman was freed 29 minutes after the initial 911 call.
The woman was taken to Christiana Hospital in stable condition.
Neighbor Samantha Roman said she was standing by the window watching the storm when she heard the tree fall.
“I heard a tree fall, heard her screaming and ran over,” Roman said.
Sands said Aetna responded to approximately 10 other calls during the storm, for issues such as wires down, but none were serious.