- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 8, 2014

DUARTE, Calif. (AP) - The “Hanging Tree” of Duarte has bitten the dust.

KNBC-TV (https://bit.ly/1t3ftk3 ) says the huge old oak uprooted around 2 a.m. Wednesday in the eastern Los Angeles suburb. It hit the roof of a townhome complex and knocked down part of a balcony.

At least five residents were forced out of their homes until the units can be safety-inspected.

A crew is cutting up the 50-foot tree.

Alan Heller, whose wife wrote a book about Duarte’s history, says local lore declares the tree was used to dispense “swift justice” in the late 1800s - although there’s not a shred of evidence to back it up.

Heller says it’s a shame to lose a piece of history. However, a chunk of the tree will wind up in the town’s historical museum.

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