An approximately 50-foot tall pine tree on the west edge of the Evergreen Lane property bit the dust on Sept. 11.
During an overnight storm that rolled through Nevada, it appears a lightning strike started the tree on fire. "There’s no evidence of anything else (having caused it)," said Nevada Fire Chief Dana Wipperman. He said the storm had passed through town about an hour before the first call came in about the tree, which was at 2:20 a.m.
Firefighters responded at 2:26 a.m. and were on the scene nearly two hours, Wipperman said. At 6:30, they were called back to the scene when the fire flared up again.
"The tree was rotten from the inside out and had been for many years," Wipperman said. He said that both times that firefighters were called out, there was active flame on the inside of the tree. The second call kept firefighters on scene another two hours.
Kris Corbin, of the Nevada Historical Society, told firefighters during the second call that it was O.K. to cut the tree down, Wipperman said. Lawn Pro came to the scene to do that. "We finally extinguished the fire after the tree was cut down and the trunk cut a couple other times," Wipperman said.
Corbin, who helps care for the Evergreen Lane property, said there are about four or five more trees there that have some kind of rotting in the center. "I keep very close eye on them, and if need be, I will take them down," he said.
Corbin said the issue with removing them is cost. "We (the Historical Society) don’t have the funds for this undertaking, so it falls to me and my family. I don’t have the skill or knowledge to take them down. Once they are on the ground, we do our best (to remove them) when we have the time."
When the Historical Society first took over the Evergreen Lane property, a number of trees were removed, and Corbin said in most cases it was because those trees were dead or about dead. In the last several years, trees have been taken down "definitely because they were dead or had fallen down. We took out several of the pines in front … These trees had died and were taken out, not from some bug as some people think," he said. Corbin said some of the trees had died because of his own caretaking mistake - he trimmed them too high. "In trimming them so high, I ended up killing them at the roots."
When it comes to pines, Corbin said there are three to four different kinds of pine trees on the grounds. "The number of each, I couldn’t say. We have oak and walnut trees as well, but in small numbers," he said. Of the two apple trees originally on the property, one was lost early in the summer. There are a few other crab apple trees.
It is the hope of the Historical Society, Corbin said, to plant more trees in the future at Evergreen Lane. "The type and number will depend on a few things - is the tree native to Iowa and of this area, and its cost. That is a big property and money is always a factor."
Corbin encourages the public to come to Evergreen Lane and check out the things that are growing there. "I think we have some great trees and other plants on the grounds. If anyone is willing to help in either volunteering to remove, plant or care for the trees, get a hold of me. If you have trees native to Iowa and want to plant them on the grounds, get a hold of me. I would love to see more fruit trees as well as pines, oaks and walnuts," he said.
As for the storm that knocked down the big pine last week, Wipperman said he wasn’t aware of any other problems early that morning. Even though it dropped a big tree, the rain storm dropped much needed moisture in the area, with the KCCI-TV School Net site in Nevada recording .29 inches of rain for the day.