Woman's lucky escape after 'toxic tree of heaven' falls (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Woman's lucky escape after 'toxic tree of heaven' falls
A woman was told she is lucky to be alive after a dangerous tree which was given protected status by Redbridge Council fell outside her house last night.
Kay Jarvis, 65, of Marlands Road, Ilford, has had a long-running dispute with the council over the rotting 50 ft tree which was given a Tree Preservation Order over ten years ago.
The species of tree, Ailanthus altissima, commonly known as the tree of heaven, is considered extremely invasive in some countries due to an obnoxious odour which it gives out and roots which commonly damage pavements and drainage systems.
Over the years, brittle branches have fallen outside Mrs Jarvis’ house, telephone lines have been cut off and she has pressed the council to have the tree removed, which was in her neighbour’s front garden.
Last night, strong winds finally blew the rotting tree over and Mrs Jarvis woke to find the trunk blocking her front door.
She said: “The issue has been growing and growing for years and finally the tree fell last night within inches of the bay window of my house.
“The fire brigade cleared most of it this morning but they said I was lucky it did not fall through the house and that I am still here.
“The council did nothing and it has finally taken something like this to prove the tree was completely rotten and potentially extremely dangerous.”
Mrs Jarvis said the tree was previously labelled as a merit to the road due to its age and the large foliage cover which it provided.
“I don’t understand why the council ignored all of our concerns about the tree and chose to preserve it if it has a bad reputation in other countries.”
The tree of heaven is known to produce a toxic chemical called ailanthone which suppresses the growth of other plants in close proximity and has a bad reputation in the USA and Australia, although remains to be considered less invasive in Britain.
The Guardian is awaiting comment from the council.