SANTA CRUZ >> High winds knocked down an enormous fir tree near the summit of Highway 17 at approximately 3 p.m. Monday, blocking all four lanes and prompting a massive effort to clear the roadway by stranded travelers.
Liza Miller was commuting home to Santa Cruz from work when traffic came to an abrupt stop.
“I was maybe the seventh car back. It took me a while to realize what I was looking at. There was this giant tree across all lanes and people were jumping out of their cars and running up there. I thought a car was trapped, but people had just begun instinctually clearing the highway,” said Miller.
A man withdrew a 20-inch chainsaw from his vehicle and began cutting branches from the tree. Others began clearing debris and branches, Miller said.
“Some people brought out brooms and began sweeping. There was this amazing sense of ‘Let’s just get it …