By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A pine tree that stood some seven stories tall fell onto a group of children outside a museum in Pasadena, California, on Tuesday, injuring eight of the youngsters, two of them seriously, city and museum officials said.
The tree crashed to the ground as dozens of children who were attending a daycamp at the museum were leaving the building at the end of an otherwise picture-perfect afternoon, city spokesman William Boyer said.
"We do not know why the tree fell. It's under investigation," he said, adding that there was no immediate evidence that California's prolonged drought had been a factor.
The accident occurred shortly before 5 p.m. in Brookside Park just outside the Kidspace Children's Museum in Pasadena, a city just northeast of Los Angeles best known for its annual Tournament of Roses Parade.
Dozens of police and firefighters arrived at the scene within minutes to rescue children trapped in tangle of fallen branches and limbs, Boyer said.
"I heard a tree crack, and then I turned around and saw little kids running, then I saw the tree fall on top of the little kids," said Greg Prodigalidad, an adult eyewitness, told local television station KABC-TV.
"I ran over there with a bunch of parents and we just started going through the tree and the bushes and we started pulling them out."
Two children struck by the massive tree, which had stood 75 feet tall, were taken to a local hospital with critical injuries, according to museum spokesman Tim Scheidler. Six other children were treated for minor injuries, he added.
Scheidler said the children, who were aged 5 to 9, had been awaiting pickup from the daycamp by their parents when the tree fell.
All campers, staff and volunteers were accounted for after the accident, he said.
(Reporting by Steve Gorman)