Kiritkumar Bhavsar was forced to cut a majestic oak tree from his yard Friday.
In the process, a Martinez subdivision lost its namesake, and Columbia County lost one of its older trees.
Bhavsar came home at about 5 p.m. Thursday to find several neighbors gathered in his yard and a large portion of his willow oak tree on his garage.
"The name of the subdivision, Oakbrook, is from this tree," said Bhavsar, who moved to the subdivision in 1992.
Bobby Temenak, the owner of Stallion Tree Professionals of the CSRA, said his company has been helping to maintain the tree at the neighborhood's Furys Ferry Road entrance for about three years. His crews trimmed it and cut out dead wood in an attempt to keep it from falling onto the home.
"I really feel in my heart that what we've been doing, we've definitely prolonged the life of that tree," Temenak said.
He estimates the large oak is about 200 years old, give or take a few decades, based on its nearly 6-foot-wide base.
"It could very well be one of the oldest (in the county)," said Chief Ranger Senior Steve Abbott, of the Georgia Forestry Commission.
The size could provide a skewed estimate considering it faces fewer challenges than trees in forests, Abbott said. The oak was in an area with little competition, where it would get fertilizer, water and lots of sun.
It faced challenges, however, Temenak said. Because the root system is usually larger than the spread of the canopy, the roots likely run under the street, driveways and homes and had to withstand digging by utility companies and other contractors.
But the tree began declining after it was struck by lightning about seven years ago.
Some center branches started dying, so Bhavsar said he had them removed and the tree regularly trimmed until Temenak volunteered to maintain the majestic oak.
"I tried to save it as much as I can," Bhavsar said.
On Thursday, a large section of the tree fell onto Bhavsar's roof because rot from the lightning strike had spread, weakening the tree. The limbs damaged the roof and eaves over the garage and the door to the garage that housed his new vehicle, which wasn't damaged.
"I was lucky, thank God," Bhavsar said.
It took Stallion crews two days to remove the tree. The living portion of the tree could not have handled the weight created by the dead, fallen part and would have eventually fallen into the street.
The tree might have been in Bhavsar's yard, but it was a symbol of the neighborhood, grandly marking its entrance.
One resident jogging through the neighborhood told the Stallion crew that the loss of the tree "sucks." Another resident also was sad to see the patch of clear sky created when the tree was removed.
"Everybody knows this tree," he said.
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