Tree falls on Burke home, pinning woman in bed

It took rescuers more than an hour to get the trapped woman out. (Photo: ABC7)

As temperatures plunged, and a bitter wind howled through Burke's Lavery Court neighborhood early Sunday morning, Dave Johnston heard a strange noise.

"There was a rumbling," he says. "Sounded like a branch sweeping across a roof."

It was much more than a branch.

Around 1:30 a.m., an enormous three-foot-wide tree crashed onto the roof of his neighbor's house across the street. It plunged right through, and sliced a deep gouge in the home, like a knife through butter.

Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Captain Willie Bailey surveyed the damage Sunday morning.

"I've seen a lot of trees on homes," he said. "But this is probably the worst I've ever seen."

Bailey says first responders were alerted by a family member inside the home, who was able to call 911. Arriving firefighters quickly realized something was very wrong.

The tree and its branches had not only sheared off part of the home, it also trapped a couple who had been sleeping in an upstairs bedroom.

Neighbor Jenny Decarvalho was among those who learned the 52-year-old woman might be in serious trouble.

"I started to cry", she says. "I didn't realize she was the one trapped up there."

Not only that, but the tree's bulk - likely hundreds of pounds - pinned the woman's legs. she couldn't move.

"The tree had crushed the bed into the floor of the home. She was pinned in the bed", Bailey says.

It took rescuers more than an hour to free the woman. Emergency crews had a delicate task. They didn't want to rock the house or the tree, for fear either one would injure the woman further.

As it was, the impact of the tree was enough to rock the home's foundation.

"We had pretty strong winds last night, combined with the relatively moist soil, not frozen yet," Johnston recalls.

Eventually, first responders got the woman out. She is being treated at Inova Fairfax Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries.

Decarvalho is relieved it wasn't worse.

"The tree, if you look at it, lays up a slight little hill", she says. "I guess the ground is fairly moist. It just toppled over."

High winds sweep through D.C. area

Elsewhere Sunday afternoon, even as the sun came out, winds reached peaks of 40-45 miles per hour. wind chills plummeted into the teens.

Pedestrians along M Street in Georgetown had to grab the cold weather gear, some for the first time this winter, to deal with the bitter chill.

Jachi Agwamba, a Howard University student, was matter-of-fact about being prepared.

"It's really cold, but I'm getting used to it... I gotta layer up", she says.

On the National Mall, some touch football players and joggers wouldn't let the cold drive them indoors.

"Invigorating, wakes you up," says Georgetown resident Mark Witaschek, who jogged four miles from his Q Street home to the White House, and back.

All with his dog Tori, running alongside. Those whipping winds, a far cry from the dog days of summer, Witaschek laughed.

"As soon as I turned around at the White House and came back, it kind of hits you in the face, but got I used to it as well", he says.