Two uprooted trees fall on apartment, cause gas leak in east El Paso

Two uprooted trees fall on apartment, cause gas leak in east El Paso
Sunday, January 12, 2014 - 10:19pm

Residents at an east El Paso apartment building say they've not returned home after strong winds up-rooted two trees knocking out four gas meters.
Officials say fire fighters arrived at the complex at Springwood and Yarborough Drive around 3:30 Sunday afternoon to control the gas leak.

“And all of the sudden like lightening it went crackle, crackle, crackle, boom,” explained Cindy Verhalen. She was at her mother’s house, across the street.

That boom she heard was the sound of two dead trees falling on the complex, knocking out the gas meters.

"iIt was crazy, it scared everybody," she said.

She called 9-1-1 and tried to get everyone away from the leak.

"I said get away from the house because you can smell the gas."

The trees weren't on the apartment’s property; they were on a neighbors land. The owner of the complex says she had seen this coming.

"It's just very disheartening to see what happened because I’ve already called the city twice to report the four dead trees on the property across from us because I knew this was bound to happen," said owner Rosina Bueno.

With the two more dead trees in the area, Cindy is worried this could happen again.

But the city says they can't do anything about it.

"This is private property where these trees are at,” said Battalion Chief David Rios. “So it is not the responsibility of the city since it is private property."

And now residents are being told they shouldn't return home.

"It is unsafe to be occupying the building until the collapsed trees are completely removed," said Rios.

Rosina said she is just glad that no one was hurt today, and that maybe now something can be done to ensure her residents safety.

"It took having them falling like this for some attention to be brought to it," she said.

As of Sunday night, Cindy said the fallen trees have still not been removed and the gas is still shut off.

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