Arrow-right Camera


A Day Of Dragging Away Trees

Sun., Nov. 24, 1996

At 4 a.m. Saturday, M.O. “Mo” Gruner heard yet another giant in his back yard succumb to ice and age as it plummeted to earth.

“I had seven fall and thought it was time to call somebody,” said Gruner, 87, as he watched a crew from Pride Logging Co. prepare another ancient Ponderosa pine for the end.

Gruner had one of the bigger cleanup jobs in town, but he wasn’t the only one mopping up from the ice storm Saturday.

The scrape of shovels on ice could be heard throughout the city as residents started their weekends by clearing their driveways and sidewalks. Residents tackled snarls of trees and limbs and turned them into firewood or trash.

Gruner’s worry was the precariously leaning Ponderosas.

With a steel cable attached to another sturdy pine, the crew pulled the tree away from Gruner’s neighbor’s house and ran the chain saw.

With a big crack and a snowy crash, the monster pine tree joined others lying on the yard.

“I had 40 trees when I started, and now I think I’m down to 30,” Gruner said.

Clyde Stranahan pretty much decided his own disaster area near Silver Beach could wait until spring - except for the snow and ice built up on his tarp-covered carport.

On Saturday the elderly Stranahan climbed a stepladder and used a rake to scrape away the ice.

“That gets heavy for an old man,” he said.

His four acres lost several trees, and the falling limbs took out most of his pole fence.

His biggest sorrow was the blue spruce that he planted in 1947. Now its length lies buried in newly fallen snow.

“I’ve been here since ‘46 and it hasn’t ever been like this,” said Stranahan, who’s still without power.

About a mile away near Tony’s Restaurant, a whiff of smoke rose from a pile of burning pine boughs next to Susan Clark and Jerald Kazekawicz’s house. The couple manages several homes and a fourplex on the property.

All their tenants are living in local motels until the power is restored.

On Saturday, the two were draining the water heater from one home. They feared the water would freeze and burst the pipes.

Another problem was the damage from falling trees and branches.

One towering red fir snapped and plummeted 60 feet onto the roof of a small house. The corner of the deck was demolished. A branch impaled the house through the bedroom closet. The ceiling sagged and the light fixture shattered.

“We won’t be able to do anything about this until the contractor and insurance agent takes a look at it,” Clark said.

With most of the other debris raked up, Clark had other plans for the day: “I was thinking of going fishing.”

On Young Avenue in Coeur d’Alene, the residents between 10th Place and 11th Street chose Saturday as a neighborhood cleanup day.

In gloves and in synch, the neighbors sawed and snipped Douglas fir and maple limbs into manageable lengths and tossed them into the back of a pickup.

“We’re starting from one end of the block and going to the other,” said Bob Woods.

The crew didn’t stop at their own property lines. They took care of a disabled neighbor’s yard and later visited another friend who needed help.

“You’ve got to help people out,” neighbor Paula Hjelseth said. “That’s what it’s all about.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 4 Photos (2 Color)

Click here to comment on this story »