SAN DIEGO -- A giant and healthy eucalyptus tree that defined a Mission Hills neighborhood was taken down and carved up Tuesday, a fate neighbors blame on the city water department.
The sound of chainsaws could be heard all day along Fort Stockton Drive.
“It's sad. That tree was like our friend,” said Angela Garner.
That friend towered over Garner's house, standing about 110 feet tall. Neighbors believe it's been in the community for a while, between 70 and 100 years. The eucalyptus turned into an attraction at Christmas. Neighbors strung lights to the top. That local icon had to come down.
“It didn't have to happen. It was stupid,” said Roger Carr.
The soil beneath the tree was compromised. In December, 10News brought you the muddy mess: a broken pipe created a sinkhole, flooding streets and yards near the tree.
“The water main should never have blown out,” said Carr.
Carr says he and a dozen others first called about a leak two weeks prior, but city crews just marked the area. Then a few days before it ruptured on Monday, Carr says he made an urgent call.
“I phoned the water department on Friday saying it's leaking twice as fast in the last couple of hours as it had been. They said, ‘Oh well, the supervisor knows about it.’”
Because of the pipe break, the tree was dubbed unsafe.
“It’s very, very sad to have lost our tree,” said Garner.
Neighbors say the city is paying for the tree removal. A water department spokesperson says they'll respond after meeting with the crew supervisor assigned to the pipe break.
City spokesperson Arian Collins issued this statement:
"The crew supervisor is not currently available to provide details about the incident. City officials will provide more information once all the facts have been presented."