AfterMath of Fire Caused by Torched, Discarded Christmas Trees at Washington Square: Living Trees Now Struggling to Survive

A cherry blossom tree, the magnolia tree, and more are struggling to survive this spring at Washington Square in the aftermath of a fire that occurred at the Park in January, when discarded Christmas trees, left prematurely for mulching, were presumably lit on fire. In this first photo, you can see the cherry blossom tree, half of it thriving, the other half struggling and not in bloom. Note: the spotlight pole is burned in the middle. Scroll down for photos of the fire which was quite large.

Photos from Mary Hegener Parker who writes:

The cherry tree, the magnolia, the rose bushes, the spotlight lamp post and the flag pole, as well as the chain fence and the paving blocks all bear scars from the fire that was set in the Christmas trees they were collecting for mulching shortly after Christmas. There are large dead areas on the trees. But stunted magnolia buds and a few flowers, growth buds on the bottom of some of the rose canes and half a cherry tree in bloom show that many plants are struggling to come back.

About photo #3, she writes, “Our half cherry tree. Note the little branches halfway up the trunk. The tree will sprout any live buds it has available in an effort to stay alive. So the living area will have much thicker growth than it would have had without the fire. It needs to conduct photosynthesis to support its existing root system.

Photos from the original incident January 8, 2013:

Looks quite intense.

From Gothamist, January 8, 2013, Pile of Murdered, Discarded Christmas Trees Set Ablaze in Washington Square:

This morning around 7 a.m. a pile of Christmas trees in Washington Square Park went up in flames. A witness tells us, “There was some excitement this morning as someone lit the pile of discarded Christmas trees on fire. The pile was next to the arch, maybe 10 yards east and has been developing over the last weeks since Christmas.” The trees have been getting dropped off there for MulchFest, and were set to be chipped.

Gothamist further reported that the fire “was contained quickly” but that the FDNY press office “had no information about what started the blaze.” That seems odd, no? A note, MulchFest didn’t happen until January 12 + 13 but people dropped their trees off early (this fire happened January 8th) which isn’t really how it’s supposed to go… and look what happened. (Of course, it’s presumed a match was involved as well.)

Wishing the best for the Washington Square trees! They have enough troubles.

** The Cherry Blossom tree by the Arch last year, late March.

Photo #1-4: Mary Hegener Parker
Photo #5: Jennie Cohen via Gothamist
Photo #6: Darwin and Riley Neher via Gothamist

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2 thoughts on “AfterMath of Fire Caused by Torched, Discarded Christmas Trees at Washington Square: Living Trees Now Struggling to Survive”

  1. local ecologist, I remember reading about this on Gothamist back in January but never wrote about it. I didn’t realize the extent of the fire… Do you agree with the assessment of the trees? Do you think they’ll ‘make’ it?




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