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Balboa Park reopens as cleanup of downed trees continues

Park closed Thursday after 35 large trees fell during wind gusts
Posted at 9:18 AM, Jan 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-27 20:53:57-05

UPDATE: City of San Diego officials announced Friday morning that Balboa Park is fully open to visitors and park employees, but the public is being reminded that cleanup following Thursday's wind conditions will continue.

City officials said Balboa Park remains "an active work area with numerous trees being removed and assessed."

Jose Ysea, the city's public information officer, added, "Crews will be out all day and the next several days doing cleanup."

Parkgoers are being urged to use caution and be aware of downed trees and areas of the park that are blocked.

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – City officials shut down Balboa Park Thursday afternoon after 35 large trees had fallen as high winds continued to gust in the area.

City of San Diego spokesperson Jose Ysea said around 11:45 a.m. they were asking people to leave the park.

The Balboa Park Golf Course, Presidio Park, Chollas Lake, and the museums will also be closed to the public for the rest of Thursday, Jan. 26.

"Closures will remain in effect... out of an abundance of caution to protect public safety," a city press release said.

"I've never seen this. We've had big winds before but I've never seen this," said Darrell McQueen.

Voyko Banjec said he was on a run when a eucalyptus tree came crashing down in front of him.

"We could hear the crackling sound as the roots were being pulled out of the ground," Banjec. "It didn't hit any cars and it didn't hit people but it was weird. It was almost like an explosion sound."

Authorities told ABC 10News one person was injured in Balboa Park when a falling tree hit them.

According to authorities, that incident was reported just after 8:50 a.m. at El Prado and Balboa Drive.

Details on the incident were not immediately released, but the victim's injuries were initially believed to be minor.

McQueen, who visits the park daily, said a group of people wanted the same tree removed before Thursday because it looked unstable.

"I was just amazed because the bowlers who I speak to every day were saying they would like this tree gone because they're afraid it's going to fall on their lawn here and a few days later, it's down," he said.

City officials said another tree fell on a car and broke a windshield.

As of 1 p.m. Thursday, city crews were working to remove tree limbs and branches that fell and blocked streets and walkways. The city says streetlights are also being affected by the high winds.

"Visitors are asked to avoid trying to enter Balboa Park and to use caution in and around these areas. Employees working in the park, museums and other cultural institutions in Balboa Park are asked to leave for the day," the press release said.

The city said it will evaluate conditions before reopening the parks for the public on Friday, Jan. 27.