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Fire Breaks Out After Tree Topples On Power Lines, Crashes On Car

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By Elizabeth Hur

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - It was a terrifying ride home in a Philadelphia neighborhood.

A man was forced to pull himself from his wrecked car – wedged underneath a fallen tree and surrounded by burning power lines.

It happened shortly after 4 o’clock Thursday afternoon at the corner of West Hortter Street and Wissahickon Avenue in the city’s West Mount Airy section.

Kevin Devlin says he knows he is lucky to be alive, “The tree was on top of me. I mean literally coming through the wind shields and the sun roof.”

Devlin was on his way home to get ready for a wake when seemingly in a flash, a massive tree came crashing, bringing down power lines and knocking out power to nearly 400 PECO customers in the area.

Devlin explained, “Literally going 30 mph down the street and just stopped dead, I remember I was going to turn off the car and I couldn’t turn the car off because the car wasn’t even in Park yet. The weight of the tree was stopping the car with my foot still on the gas pedal. I look to the left and there’s flames shooting up from power lines.”

Devlin managed to crawl out of the passenger side window and call his wife.

Casey Devlin said, “I’m just relieved. I mean it could have been a lot worse.”

So on a clear sunny afternoon, how could this happen? We asked Stephanie Wolf who owns the lot where the 300-year-old Oak tree once stood. She said she has her trees examined twice a year every year. The tree involved was checked this past fall.

Wolf responded, “It’s hot as the Dickens but no wind, no reason for this to happen. If it were rotted you can understand it but look at it it’s not.”

Kevin added, “Now that I’m looking at the size of this tree and literally what fell on the car, thank God, that’s the only thing I can say.”

Shaken but not hurt. For that, his neighbors say they are grateful.

As for those who lost power as a result of this incident, PECO officials say as of 11pm Thursday, sixty customers remained in the dark. Crews were in the process of replacing two power poles damaged by the tree and they hoped to have everyone back online by some time after midnight.

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