Santa Ana winds: Fallen trees create risky work for tree services

A worker from J&J Tree Removal Service scales the remnants of a cedar tree in Santa Monica.
A worker from J&J Tree Removal Service scales the remnants of a cedar tree in Santa Monica.
Brian Watt/KPCC

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This week’s windstorm caused all sorts of headaches for Southern California residents, but it also created a lot of work for tree services.

J and J Tree Service is one of many businesses in the Southland that specialize in tree trimming and removal. Since Wednesday night, the focus has been on removal.

"We’re working like 16 hours a day to relieve all our customers of the tree problems," said J and J owner Hezy Bar. "There’s a tremendous amount of trees that fell down, mainly in the canyons and in the high points of the mountains and even here in the flat of Santa Monica."

J and J has five crews, and has received more calls for tree removal than they can respond to. In Santa Monica today, one crew cut down and removed a 65-foot-tall cedar tree in front of a home. The wind had snapped the tree and a piece of it fell and smashed a Mercedes in the driveway. A crew man spent hours in a harness near the top of the tree with chainsaw, trimming away branches and pieces.

"This work is extremely hazardous, it takes a lot of training, people need to be really educated in the field," Hezy Bar said. "Unfortunately for us, there is a tremendous amount of people in the field, who have no training, carry no insurance, no licenses and subject themselves to the same kind of work."

Bar said his company does have insurance and it is expensive because insurance companies know how dangerous the work is.

"I feel that I have to compete with every gardener that knows how to hold a chainsaw and have no training and can bring a slightly lower price to the homeowner."