First came the noise.
Neighbor Karen Kuhn said "we heard it as loud as a clap of thunder but it sounded like a terrible ripping, crashing noise like a tractor trailer crashing. Just awful."
Kuhn lives just a short block away from the Neperan Road residence where a giant red oak fell around 3:45 p.m. Friday at the corner of Hamilton.
The tree, weakly rooted along a stone wall at the front of the property, suddenly fell onto the lot, crushing a corner of the brick house in its wake and taking out the electricity. Hours later, the lot is taped off with police tape and the massive tree fills the yard, dwarfing the house. There is broken glass on the walkway and a strong smell of fresh wood.
Cars slow as they make their way up and down Neperan and neighbors are still standing around talking about the incident that shocked them hours earlier. Luckily, they all said, the family was not home when it happened.
Next door neighbor Mustafa Sakayra said he too was home and heard the noise, "a gigantic boom, the craziest sound." He and the neighbors tried to contact the homeowner Stephanie Leggio, who owns Pretty Funny Vintage on South Broadway, but she wasn't in the store. Eventually, someone found her, Sakayra said. She arrived when the police and fire department were leaving the scene. She went in through the back door to remove some of the things the family would need as the front is blocked and they would obviously need to be staying elsewhere.
Sakayra said this red oak was the biggest tree on Neperan. Now there's "one less monster." He recalled that not too long ago, a giant limb of another tree on Leggio's property fell, but not as dramactically as this.
"You can see why this happened," said Sakayra, pointing out that it couldn't have been well-rooted so close to the stone wall. "We had strong rains. It was just time for it to fall." Another neighbor said he had seen it leaning lately.
While insurance will pay for the act-of-god house damage, a neighbor thought that the homeowner would probably be on her own for the tree removal, a huge job that will take a while.
In the meantime, Sakayra said "this will provide a lot of visual entertainment," grateful that it only left a giant mess when it could have gone a lot worse.
"Everyone is OK thankfully," Kuhn assured concerned friends on her Facebook page.