As much of the East Coast grapples with snow, ice and very bad road conditions, a NestCam owned by the Swingle family of New Jersey caught a dramatic moment that occurred just outside their Flemington home last Friday after the storm of last week. Fortunately no one was injured or killed — but this could have turned out very differently.
Several emergency vehicles were parked in front of the home as first responders tended to a two-alarm house fire across the street that began after a transformer blew last week. Then, with virtually no warning — a giant tree crashed down onto the Quakertown, New Jersey, firetruck — narrowly missing an unidentified pedestrian who had been walking on the sidewalk there just seconds before.
“That [fire]truck was parked where my car had been about only 40-45 minutes earlier because I made the completely odd decision to go to Costco,” a grateful Milissa Swingle, a small-business owner and mother of four, told LifeZette.
The tree, as it was falling, took a bunch of power lines with it — strewing them across the truck, yard and sidewalk and creating an immediate safety hazard for the first responders and families in the immediate vicinity.
“We are just thankful no residents or first responders were hurt from this falling tree,” Chief Bradley Patkochis of Quakertown Fire Company 91 told LifeZette Wednesday.
Watch this video closely — and keep your eye on the pedestrian who walks across the screen, from left to right. Then see what happens right after that:
In terms of damage to the firetruck, “we don’t know the extent of the electrical damage — my rough estimate is probably $50,000. It will be out of service for months,” Chief Patkochis told LifeZette.
The 2007 rescue truck usually carries firefighting crews as well as fire and rescue equipment, including lighting and a mobile air-filling station. While the truck is out of service, the rescue personnel of Quakertown 91 will be relying on a reserve truck built in 1987.
Chief Patkochis hopes insurance will cover most of the repair costs.
Charlton Swingle, the family’s third-grader, was on his way home from school when the incident occurred. A longtime fan of all things fire, police, and rescue, the boy said he was a bit disappointed to have missed all the excitement.
“He was all types of angry that he was stuck on the school bus,” his mother joked.
The family is lucky to have power right now, although other neighbors in the area had their power return only yesterday.
Some areas of the country have been hit hard by this week’s new storm. More than 45,000 customers in Westchester County, New York, for example, had been without power already since last week’s weather event. Some areas were predicted to get as much as 14 inches of snow on Wednesday; many thousands of people remain without power.
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.