Fire damage leading to structural failure

Last week, ‘Storm Katie’ (seems pointless naming them, but that’s what it is called) hit the UK. The winds were strong. Fortunately, foliage had not yet broken out on many trees, which probably saved quite a few trees from certain death, but nonetheless there were many mature trees that did fall (or suffer major damage). Many were poplars, ivy-covered trees, and so on, though this oak shown below failed as a result of the extensive fire damage it had sustained some years prior (courtesy of vandals). The fire damage ensured that the tension side of this oak stem was non-existent, and therefore the entire structure was loaded largely under compression (which is not good, as wood is around three-times stronger under tension). Unfortunately, the wind loading got the better of the tree, and it failed at the butt. A great shame, indeed. However, the oak shall not be cleared, but instead ‘tidied’ a little and allowed to remain, providing habitat for plenty of insects and fungi in the years to come. And so, with the death of the oak, it gives life to many species it would probably have never given life to during its own existence.

This was a massive oak, and the stem was around 1m in dbh.
A look at the lack of sound wood on half of the stem.
This image gives a sense of scale, I find.
Here, we can see how the stem failed at the butt on the tension side.
And a final look at the remaining stump.
Fire damage leading to structural failure

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