Split tree
This redwood tree at Holly and Buena was struck by lightning and “exploded” according to neighbors and authorities on the scene. Photo: Kat McGowan

A giant redwood tree in North Berkeley was struck by lightning at around 1:15 p.m. today and “exploded” sending chunks of wood flying in all directions, according to authorities.

Several windows and skylights in nearby homes were broken out, but there were no reported injuries, according to Berkeley Deputy Fire Chief Avery Webb who estimated the redwood, which is at the intersection of Holly Street and Buena Avenue, had been reduced in size from 70 ft to about 25 ft.

Listen to today’s thunder in this recording, made at around 1:15 p.m., shared with us by Will Galloway:



Debris from the redwood tree that was struck by lightning littered streets in the area. Photo: Dan Brekke

“The tree blew apart, and there are chunks of wood everywhere,” Webb said.

The fire department was on scene at 2:30 p.m. canvassing the neighborhood to assess the scope of the damage.

Webb said the fire department received a call about the tree at 1:22 p.m. It is located on the north-west corner of the intersection of Holly Street and Buena Avenue on private property.

Chunks of wood flew as far as 2 blocks from the tree according to authorities. Photo: Dan Brekke

Kat McGowan, who was in the area, said the tree “exploded” and shards of wood flew everywhere. She said the house next to the tree seemed to be “mostly OK” “It was scary/thrilling. Good thing everybody seems to be OK,” she posted on Twitter.

The redwood tree at the north-west corner of Holly Street and Buena Avenue which exploded after being struck by lightning. Image: Google Maps

Also on Twitter, Annie wrote that she was two blocks away and it “felt like a bomb.”

The loud thunder and lightning that accompanied today’s rain provoked lots of reaction in the community on social media. Many people reported that car alarms had been set off by the vibrations.

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Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...