90ft tree falls on Nike store at Kittery Outlets during storm
KITTERY, Maine – As strong gusts of wind and heavy rain caused power outages and flooding around the Seacoast and southern Maine region on Monday, a large tree uprooted and toppled over the store Nike from the Kittery Premium Outlets.
Coincidentally, at the same time, the owner of a York-based tree care business said he had driven by the scene and witnessed the fall.
Kittery Police Department Chief Robert Richter said units were notified around 10:30 a.m. Monday that a tree had crashed atop the 345 U.S. Route 1 store during a storm that left thousands of people in southern Maine without power for several hours. A National Weather Service forecaster said wind gusts of up to 50 mph were felt around the coast with “hurricane-force” winds offshore.
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Mike Lee, Lee Tree Company owner and second-generation arborist, was driving south on U.S. Route 1 past the store when he saw the tree ‘rise’ in a gust, then be knocked over by a following and on the shop. roof.
Less than three hours later, around 1 p.m., Lee Tree Company was called to the scene – one of six calls they responded to on Monday for the removal of trees and branches following the outgoing storm.
“It’s a pretty standard operation for a tree company like ours,” he said.
Over the course of approximately two and a half hours, the Lee Tree Company used a crane to cut the approximately 90-foot fir tree into pieces and remove it from the roof. Lee explained that fir trees are surface-rooted trees, meaning their roots are visible on the ground, and the one that landed on the Nike store had a base about 28 inches wide.
“It’s not that unusual to see a tree like this coming up,” Lee said.
The tree’s branches broke the surface of the roof, creating a hole about four or five feet wide, but did not impact the interior of the store. Lee said his company will likely spend the next few days dealing with reports of downed trees and branches across the region.
“There were branches on the tree that penetrated at least 10 or 12 feet and the hole was big enough for you to slip through,” he said.
As he watched him fall into his vehicle, Lee said parts of the tree broke off and fell into the parking lot, barely missing a few parked cars. Richter said no injuries were reported in the incident. Store employees were in the building at the time, but no customers, he said.
A Tuesday afternoon statement from Kittery Premium Outlets reads: ‘The building has (temporarily) lost power and has been evacuated out of an abundance of caution. All stores have reopened and resumed normal hours.
At the height of widespread power outages during Monday’s storm, Central Maine Power reported that more than half of Eliot customers and more than a third of Kittery CMP users were without power.