A Big Bang shook the neighborhood this afternoon during a thunderstorm, knocking a picture frame off the wall of my office. The lightning bolt struck a sixty-foot redwood tree two blocks away and blew it up. All that was left of the giant was a jagged, shattered stump.
Twisted, stripped fragments rested on neighboring roofs and lawns. A parked car sat with its windshield smashed. Windows several doors away were blown out. Small fragments of the tree lay on the pavement more than a block away.
Neighbors said no one was injured. The impact jarred children next door out of their naps, but the roof over their heads held firm. The tree didn’t collapse, it exploded outward in several directions. An older resident complained of PTSD symptoms.
What probably happened is that the superhot jolt of electricity turned the tree’s inner moisture into steam in a fraction of a second. The resulting explosive expansion fractured the tree from inside and blew it apart.
The tree before the lightning strike, as seen in Google Street View:
The location is near the corner of Buena and Holly Streets in North Berkeley.