Tree falls on house off Nicolaus Road

By: Brandon Darnell, News Messenger Reporter
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Strong winds Sunday afternoon brought a 60-foot oak tree down on a house on Nicolaus Road, causing roughly $150,000 in damage, but no injuries, said Lincoln Fire Chief Dave Whitt. “We got the call at 12:40,” Whitt said. “We got there and established a safe area and shut off the utilities.” Whitt said a building inspector was called out, and it was determined that the house is uninhabitable until the tree is removed and the house is deemed structurally sound once again. The homeowners, Steve and Michelle Zoucha, were unavailable for comment Monday, but several neighbors described the event. “All I heard was a real loud crash, and I thought it was next door,” said Catherine Kast, who lives two houses down from the Zouchas. “We ran over there to see if everyone was all right,” Kast said. “We were so glad no one was hurt.” The wind was very strong Sunday, Kast said, adding that she saw all the trees in the area blowing in the wind. Kast said she and her husband Dale had one of their own trees fall down several years ago, but it was not very close to the house. There are a couple, however, that are close, but the cost of removing them is steep. “There aren’t any real precautions to take,” Kast said. “I would never plant a tree like that so close to the house.” “We’re all glad no one was hurt,” said Dale Kast, who thinks the Zouchas have lived in the house for about three years. Pat Cline lives between the Kasts and the Zouchas and said there was no indication that the tree would fall until it actually did. “They got really lucky,” Cline said. Cline said the Zouchas had company over, and there were people by a nearby barn and in the house, but no one had been in the garage, upon which the tree fell. “It sounded like an explosion,” Cline said. “It was unbelievable.” A truck was parked near where the tree fell, but Cline said he was unsure if it had sustained any damage, but if it had, it wasn’t enough to prevent its being driven. An RV was also nearby, and Cline said he thought it had escaped damage as well. The Zouchas have a lot of friends in the area, according to Cline, and much of the mess had been cleaned up and put in a dumpster by Monday. The wind “was howling. It was really, really windy,” Cline said. “That’s what brought the tree down, I’m sure.” Brandon Darnell can be reached by e-mail at