A tractor-trailer driver trying to move aside for an oncoming fire truck struck a tree in Hanover Borough early Tuesday morning, causing the tree to fall into the road and closing Baltimore Street south of Center Square for more than an hour, according to witnesses.
The A.H. Gardner & Son Inc. truck from Baltimore, Md. was traveling south on Baltimore Street just south of Pleasant Street around 8:30 when a fire truck approached from the other direction heading north, according to tractor-trailer driver Winston Lee.
Lee said when he tried to move over for the emergency vehicle to pass, the fiberglass spoiler on top of the truck's cab struck a tree on the east side of Baltimore Street.
"I hit a branch I didn't even see," said Lee, of Bel Air, Md.
The large tree fell on top of the truck and out onto Baltimore Street, ripping away part of the truck's spoiler in the process and damaging the side of the vehicle to the point where it was no longer driveable, said Lee, who added he got out and away from the truck immediately.
No one was injured in the crash.
By 9:30 a.m. area police and fire crews were clearing the area of debris, and the road was set to soon reopen. Crews used chainsaws, a wood-chipper and a front-end loader to grind up the tree and take it away.
Hanover Borough Police Department Lt. Dwayne Smith said no further action will be taken against the truck driver.
"It didn't appear there was any carelessness on the part of the driver," he said. "He was trying to yield to an emergency vehicle."
Fire Chief Jan Cromer said the tractor-trailer hit the tree while the Penn Township fire truck was still about two blocks away. After the tree fell and the road was blocked, firefighters were told the accident they had been heading to in the borough was already under control, he said.
So the Penn crew stayed at the scene and helped with the tree cleanup.
"You've got someone pulling over for us and this happened," the chief said. "It was just bad luck."
Daniel Noel, who lives in a second-floor apartment in the 500 block of Baltimore Street where the accident occurred, said he was walking down the steps Tuesday morning when he heard a loud bang. It happened quickly, he said, with the impact and then the tree suddenly arcing down and smacking onto the street.
"It made a little bit of a racket," he said. "That's for sure."