By John Anderson
John Nicholas was woken up abruptly around 2:30 Tuesday morning when the maple tree on his front lawn split and one third of it landed on his roof at 61 Sumner St. The trunk had grown into three vertical sections, and only the one facing the street remained. The north piece fell across the driveway, and the south piece nestled between the dormers of the cape style home.
With electricity intact and no obvious damage Mr. Nicholas waited for daylight to survey the situation. A resident of Sumner St., on the way to work and concerned about the home’s residents, called 911 around 7:30am. Police, Fire and EMS responded. Shortly thereafter, the Building Commissioner, Highway Superintendent and National Grid were requested at the scene.
Building Commissioner Nick Antanavica said there was no structural damage, and the house was safe to occupy while Highway Superintendent Ken Fairbanks determined the tree was owned by the town. He notified Auburn’s tree removal contractor and they cleared everything by the end of the day. Last evening, there was no visible damage to the house except for a bent gutter.
Although there was some severe weather on Monday night as close as Leicester, no neighbors in the area recalled anything but rain. The area where the tree split exhibited a lot of rot, so this may well have been the cause. Mr. Nicholas, a recent widower, is the sole occupant of the house where he has lived for some 40 years. The retired WPI custodian was in a good mood throughout the ordeal and summed up the morning, “You gotta try to look at the bright side.”