High winds set in motion high-wire act – with saws | TheUnion.com

High winds set in motion high-wire act – with saws

John HartGeorge Basso, (left) owner of High Sierra Tree Service, is securing a broken tree limb to the cable on a crane before lowering the limb to the ground. Bryon Collier is securing himself to the tree for safety.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

You know you’ve got an interesting job when people leave their warm homes on a cold, drizzly morning and stand outside to watch you work.

George Basso is used to the attention.

On Tuesday morning, Basso – the owner of High Sierra Tree Service – showed up with two workers at Morgan Ranch subdivision in Grass Valley to do away with a 1,000-pound black oak tree branch that this weekend’s storms left precariously hanging over a house on Ruby Ledge Court.

One by one, a handful of curious neighbors came out of their homes to watch the show – a mix of heavy equipment puffing diesel smoke, dizzying heights, chain saws and climbing ropes.

Bud Spears, of B&B Crane Service, used a crane to hoist Basso and one of his workers, Byron Collier, some 80 feet into the tree.

Basso didn’t stay long. He tied a cable around the broken branch and then rappelled down to the ground on a climbing rope. The crane hoisted the branch away.

Then, Collier – who was stationed in the tree – cut off the ragged remains still attached to the tree. The 500-pound log was then lowered to the ground.

“That was hectic,” said Basso, who got bounced around when he cut the branch free with his 14-inch chain saw.

But, “I like what I’m doing. Nineteen years later, I’m still enjoying what I’m doing,” he said.

Basso launched his business nearly two decades ago, quitting his job at SPD after he got a taste of the tree business, working part time for a friend.

Basso has never had an accident on the job. He says accidents happen when people get tired, so he and his crews only work six-hour days.

“I go to the gym three or four times a week, just to stay in shape for work,” he said.

Basso has never seen a tree kill anyone. But he’s seen them cut houses in half and break every single roof tile on a house.

“Generally, the trees that uproot do the most damage,” he said.

This weekend’s storm only generated a handful of jobs for Basso. It was nothing, he said, compared to a big storm in the late ’80s which “did a tremendous amount of damage.”

The neighbors who watched Basso early Tuesday morning aren’t the only ones who seem fascinated by falling trees. Kids like to watch tree-trimmers at work, too, Basso said.

About six years ago, Basso and his crew were working near Deer Creek School in Nevada City. A crowd of students, including Basso’s son Nicholas, came out to watch the men suspended by ropes in the trees.

The other kids said, “Wow! Look at your dad,” Basso said.

But his son replied, “I’ve seen it a thousand times.”

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