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Removal of 80-year-old tree expected to affect dozens of Harrisburg residents

The removal of an Elm tree in Harrisburg is expected to take a week to complete and affect dozens of residents.

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The removal of an 80-year-old Elm tree in Harrisburg is expected to take a week to complete and affect dozens of residents.

The tree stands in the backyard area of a city block of townhouses. As it has grown to tower over the buildings, its branches have put increasing weight on electric poles, energy and cable lines, and the houses it sits next to. One branch has buckled a second-story porch.

Because the tree is posing risk of serious injury and hundreds of thousands of dollars in property damage, PPL agreed to pay for its removal.

The removal is complicated by the tree’s many branches, which will have to be dismantled one at a time.

“All it takes is one storm for a branch to break and bring down a power line, cause an electrical fire," Matt Maisel, director of communications for the City of Harrisburg told FOX43. "These are all worst-case scenarios that we don’t even’ want to think about, but we have to think about. We have to think of the possibility before it happens. From drone shots overhead, you can see the power lines disappear within the branches. It’s almost like the Tree of Life tree in "Avatar" or Animal Kingdom at Disneyland. It’s a potential Jumanji situation that we simply just want to avoid at all costs.”

An entire square block will be closed at the intersections of Clinton and Harris Streets with Penn and Green Streets. Parking will also be temporarily not allowed.

The Red Cross is working with Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) to provide a day shelter at HACC Midtown Campus at 1523 North 4th Street. Air conditioning, WiFi, water, and snacks will be available.

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