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Winds play havoc with trees, traffic
Ripon Tree DSC 7306 edited-1
A large pine tree more than 50 feet long hangs in air across East Milgeo Avenue at Murphy Road late Friday morning in Ripon. - photo by GLENN KAHL/ The Bulletin

Fire Departments in Manteca, Lathrop and Ripon were busy Friday with endless calls about fallen trees and downed power lines caused by the extreme wind conditions.
Manteca Realtor Wendy Benavides said she encountered railroad crossing arms malfunctioning in the wind story twice during the day as she drove down Yosemite Avenue with a train approaching.  The first encounter had the arm staying up and the second time it was raising up as the train was closing in on the crossing.
Ripon’s Colony Oak School was without power for nearly two hours after a tall fir tree fell across Milgeo Avenue from Spring Creek Estates. It caused three power lines to drop on the roadway also causing many of the homes in the area to be without power.
Teachers at the nearby elementary school met the challenge by opening their doors and pulling back shades on their windows to allow light into the classrooms.  The lights came back on shortly before noon, according to a school district spokesman. There were also reports of flickering lights in homes and businesses throughout the day.
PG&E responded to the Milgeo Avenue and Spring Creek neighborhoods and selectively suspended electrical service to homes along the street until the power lines could be reattached and service restored, however service remained out at dusk when an independent contractor was reportedly working on the problem.
A private generator was substituted as a power source for water well serving a section of the Spring Creek area neighborhoods during the day-long loss of power.
Members of the Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) in Ripon and Seniors Helping Area Residents and Police (SHARP) in Manteca were on the street directing traffic around downed lines and incidents involving trees that created traffic hazards on the surface streets.  A number of fences were also downed by the fierce winds.
Many trees were blown down in Manteca as well with several snapping in the wind in front of the Rotary Club’s mural on a wall across from the Post Office on Maple Avenue and just off of a city parking lot.
One large tree fell on a late model sedan in the 700 block of  El Portal Avenue at Virginia shortly before 2 p.m. Power lines were reported down at South Main Street and Peach Tree as well as Pacific and Yosemite avenues, west of Manteca proper.
One large outdoor advertising sign on Moffat Boulevard had its display message ripped from the back of the sign that had been facing the passing traffic.
A tractor trailer rig with a full load was seen on a northbound Highway 99 off ramp tipping on nearly a 45 degree angle as the driver approached the stop sign at Austin Road.  As the rig moved southerly toward the bridge over the freeway, it again tipped to the right but at a lesser 30 degree angle. Highway traffic had noticeably slowed by some 20 miles an hour during the heavy wind gusts.
The fire departments also responded to a number of calls for victims of falls during the day with a spokesman saying it was not more than usual – just adding to their day’s response.

To contact Glenn Kahl, email