Trees can kill you!

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HOPATCONG — A man sitting in his living room was killed Thursday afternoon by a tree falling into his house, police said.

Frederick Dalton, 74, was sitting in an upstairs living room of his Maxim Drive home at 3:17 p.m. when a tree near the house toppled and cut into the house, said Lt. Thomas Kmetz.

Police officers used a ladder to crawl into a back upstairs window looking for the homeowner – and found that the tree had also knocked roof debris onto a kerosene heater, which started a fire in the house, Kmetz said.

One of the officers put out the fire with a fire extinguisher from his patrol car, and was sickened by smoke and chemicals, and taken to St. Clare’s Medical Center in Dover, Kmetz said.

The other officers found two dogs and took them out of the house, police said. Only then did they discover the homeowner, Kmetz explained.

“The tree and roof were on top of him. It was impossible to remove him due to the size of the tree,” the lieutenant said.

“A tree-cutting crew had to respond to assist with removing him,” Kmetz added, calling the incident a tragedy.

The road was closed for several hours, and the local fire department and ambulance squad stayed on scene to help the investigation.

The 80-foot tree cleaved the house in two – and even landed on the neighboring house, Kmetz added.

Winds were strong from Wednesday night into Thursday afternoon, with gusts over 60 mph recorded at High Point and some other parts of the state.

Several people across the state were killed by falling trees during Hurricane Sandy, including Bruce Latteri, an Oak Ridge resident, who was crushed while sitting at his kitchen table.

By Seth Augenstein/The Star-Ledger

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