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Tree Explosion Leaves Stockton Neighbors Shaken

STOCKTON (CBS13) — Several people in a Stockton neighborhood are still startled after hearing a loud noise.

Earl Summers and his wife, Nancy were inside their north Stockton home relaxing in front of the television when they heard something that sounded much like gunfire.

"All of a sudden we heard the biggest commotion I've heard, I didn't know if it was an earthquake or a train running through the backyard. My wife jumped up and looked out the window and hollered, oh my God," he said.

The old oak tree next door, which has provided shade over the last 30 years, exploded. Pieces of it were all over yards, and one of those pieces broke through Earl and Nancy's home.

"The limb just blew off. It was full of water which supposedly oak trees do, in the winter months they fill themselves with water so they can survive through the summer. We had no wind or anything. It was really calm and it just broke and came down," said Summers.

The explosion was just that—branches starting to fall off. An arborist says it happens during dry conditions when the temperatures soar. Just like humans, trees sweat. The process is called transpiration. It's how trees transport water to its roots, trunks, branches, and leaves and allows trees to breathe. But the process does have limits.

"Trees bring in moisture and they need to release that moisture. On hot, calm days when there is not a lot of wind, that transpiration, or sweat decreases. The water still being up taken, but it's not released so something has to give," said Justin Widgren, owner of NorCal Arborists.

While the owners of the tree figure out what to do next, arborists say there are things homeowners can do to keep trees healthy under the sun.

"You should always have a qualified person inspect it, not just any tree company, but someone who has credentials. Maintenance, just because you prune your tree, there is so much into the details of maintenance and how you should prune your tree that will greatly affect your risk, the risk rating on that tree. Maintenance is key," he said.

Neighbors are waiting for their insurance companies to assess the damage. In the meantime, they are helping each other clean up the mess left behind.

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