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Powerful Storm Topples Trees, Kills Woman At Santa Rosa Campsite

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Image of victim Gayle Falgoust over the site the Safari West incident (Falgoust Family/CBS)

Image of victim Gayle Falgoust over the site the Safari West incident (Falgoust Family/CBS)

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SANTA ROSA (CBS/AP/BCN) – At least one death is being blamed on the wild weather that blew through Northern California Tuesday night, causing mud slides and downing trees and power lines.

Gayle Falgoust was visiting Safari West, a wildlife preserve north of Santa Rosa, with her granddaughter for a group excursion and was staying in one of the preserve’s luxury safari tents, Safari West spokeswoman Aphrodite Caserta said.

A tree fell about 8:50 p.m. Tuesday, crushing Falgoust inside the tent. Firefighters responded to the preserve, located at 3115 Porter Creek Road, within minutes and found the 70-year-old dead, Rincon Valley Fire Chief Doug Williams said.

Falgoust, who was reading and relaxing in the tent, was killed instantly, Caserta said.

“It’s a tragic act of nature,” Caserta said. “It occurred during a severe storm, and the fire department and sheriff’s office told us it could not have been foreseen.”

The granddaughter escaped uninjured and was taken to another tent to be picked up by family members, Caserta said.

KCBS’ Janice Wright Reports:

Downed trees and power lines, as well as standing water on the roadway, were reported from the Santa Cruz Mountains up to Sonoma County as a result of the storm.

In Santa Cruz County, a man in his 70s died as he was cutting up a tree that had fallen on a hillside in Scotts Valley.

As dawn broke Wednesday, Caltrans cleared mud and muck from state Highway 1 at Devil’s Slide.

The mudslide was reported to the CHP at 10:34 p.m., and arriving officers found a mass of mud about 100 feet wide blocking the roadway, CHP Officer Peter Van Eckhardt said.

Although only the southbound lanes were initially affected, a Sig-alert was issued at 11:11 p.m. once officers determined that cars could not safely travel in either direction, Van Eckhardt said. The road was completely re-opened shortly before 8 a.m.

A large tree fell onto Pleasanton Sunol Road in Alameda County early Wednesday morning, shutting down the roadway for about five hours, a California Highway Patrol officer said.

The tree was lying across both lanes of traffic near Verona Road, in the area of the Castlewood Country Club. Crews were able to clear the road by 9:15 a.m.

PG&E employees were still working Wednesday to restore service to 220 customers in the Fremont, Newark and Union City area who were still without power.

Initially, nearly 7,800 Alameda County customers were affected by the outage that began just before 10:30 p.m., PG&E spokesman J.D. Guidi said.

Affected customers include residents of Hayward near California State University East Bay and Fairview, an unincorporated area of Alameda County, he said.

The San Francisco Bay Area is expected to be mostly cloudy Wednesday with highs in the lower 50s. Northwest winds of 20 to 30 mph are anticipated, along with gusts of up to 40 mph.

Bay Area skies are expected to be mostly clear, with northwest winds reaching 30 mph and lows near 40.

On Thursday, the Bay Area is expected to be partly cloudy, with a slight chance of showers, highs near 50 and northwest winds of 10 to 20 mph.

CBS Weather Center: Get The Forecast For Your Neighborhood

(© 2010 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)


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