Capitol Heights home damaged by tree during snowstorm -- Gazette.Net


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While the snowstorm Wednesday proved dull for many in Prince George’s, it was just the opposite for one Capitol Heights family startled by a falling tree that crashed down on their home.

A large tree behind the split-level house on District Avenue came through the roof around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, crashing into the kitchen and an upstairs bedroom and bathroom, according to family members.

“My wife was in the kitchen cooking spaghetti, and I was asleep on the chair in the living room and all of the sudden I heard crashing and screaming and lights busting,” said Curtis Jeter, the father of the seven-member family living in the home.

The house was condemned after a county inspector deemed it unsafe due to the gaping holes in the roof and walls from tree limbs, according to officials.

The five people who were home at the time the tree fell were not injured, Jeter said.

“My wife said she began to hear limbs cracking before it came through. I don’t know how it missed her,” he said.

Firefighters responded to the house after a neighbor called 911 when they heard the tree fall, an official said. The stove was still on after the family escaped, prompting responding firefighters to shut it off to prevent a house fire.

“My husband and daughter heard the sound of it falling when they were leaving to go to the store, then they saw the mother running out of the house,” said neighbor Keicia Bush, who said the rest of the family followed the mother outside.

Jeter’s son, Curtis Jeter Jr., 30, said the family made arrangements to stay with a relative and are working with their insurance company to determine how to repair the home.

He said the family had lived in the home 21 years.

“Everyone’s OK now, but the feeling then was terrifying,” he said, noting that he was sitting in the living room at the time the tree fell. “This was the biggest tree we had around here.”

The tree collapse was one of few incidents reported in the county relating to the storm Wednesday.

According to county fire/EMS officials, fewer calls came in than usual, and emergency calls relating to the storm were minimal.

Mark Brady, chief spokesman for the county’s fire/EMS department, said the tree falling on the house was the most significant storm-related incident Wednesday and said the incident was a result of wet grounds and high winds.

“We saw a 30 percent reduction in calls,” Brady said. “Everybody heeded the advice of weather forecasters and public safety officials to stay at home if at all possible.”

Very few traffic accidents were reported, and Brady said the county was “right on the cusp” of inclement weather but received mostly rain. More than five inches of snow accumulation were expected for Prince George’s and the surrounding area, according to the National Weather Service, but there was an actual accumulation of about an inch.

djgross@gazette.net