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Tree falls on St. Petersburg street and out come the bees

ST. PETERSBURG — Firefighters were inspecting a fallen oak tree that blocked 10th Avenue N and knocked down power lines Wednesday afternoon when they suddenly found themselves outnumbered:

The tree was home to 40,000 to 60,000 Africanized bees, a.k.a killer bees.

One or two firefighters were stung but the situation was soon under control and the bee hives removed, according to St. Petersburg Fire Rescue.

The whole thing started around 12:30 p.m., authorities said, when the 40-foot tree came crashing down on a residential street near 34th Street N. The tree trunk had been weakened by termites.

But the termites had roommates: two big hives full of bees. Firefighters found that out after they blocked off the road and took a closer look at the tree.

"All of a sudden there's a huge swarm of bees," said Fire Rescue Lt. Joel Granata. "Some of the bees stung some of the firefighters on scene."

One firefighter, after being stung in the forehead, took cover in a fire engine. The angry bee then started attacking the windows, Granata said.

"Once they sting somebody the venom creates a frenzy and they keep attacking," Granata said.

So firefighters backed off, created a perimeter around the tree and told everyone on the block to stay inside.

A beekeeper began removing the honeycomb from the hives and will disperse the bees.

Power in the neighborhood has also been restored, Granata said. But firefighters advise avoiding 10th Avenue N for a while longer.

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Tree falls on St. Petersburg street and out come the bees 07/22/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 22, 2009 3:47pm]
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