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‘I could’ve been dead,’ Tarentum homeowner says after tree falls onto house | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

‘I could’ve been dead,’ Tarentum homeowner says after tree falls onto house

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
A tree fell onto a home on Allegheny Street in Tarentum on the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019. A wind advisory was in effect, with sustained winds of 15 mph gusting to 32 mph recorded at Pittsburgh International Airport, according to the National Weather Service.

A Tarentum homeowner was feeling lucky to be alive after a large tree fell onto his house Wednesday morning, causing severe damage to the roof and leaving a hole directly over his bed.

Fortunately, Frank Lee was already downstairs and watching television when the tree fell onto his home at 400 Allegheny St. shortly after 8 a.m.

“Thank God I wasn’t in my bed,” he said.

Lee said he’s lived there since 1996, just recently had the house renovated.

“I was watching TV,” he said. “I heard this big bang like a firecracker.

“If I was upstairs I could’ve been dead.”

Tree branches and limbs also fell onto Lee’s car, which was parked in a driveway on the opposite side of the house from the tree.

An employee with Tarentum’s electricity department removed the parts of the tree that were on the electric service to the house. The service was damaged, but the power could be left on, he said.

Borough code enforcement Officer Anthony Bruni was inspecting the house. He said he had just looked at the tree yesterday.

“You never know what’s underneath,” he said.

The Pittsburgh area remained under a wind advisory Wednesday morning, when sustained winds of 15 mph with gusts up to 32 mph were recorded at Pittsburgh International Airport, according to the National Weather Service. No readings for the Tarentum area were available.

Peak wind gusts reached 44 mph at the airport Tuesday night.

Lee’s nextdoor neighbor, Tim Swartz, at 308 Allegheny, had a tree cut down in his own back yard on Tuesday, after a limb had fallen from it into his yard last week. The trunk was still standing, with the cut up wood still in his yard.

He acted fast, he said, because he was worried about it damaging his shed or his other neighbor’s fence.

Squirrels had weakened the Norwegian maple, Swartz said.

Swartz said he was getting ready to jump in the shower when he heard a bang.

“The wind gust through and there was a big crash,” Swartz said. “We thought the roof flew off.”

Lee was getting in touch with his insurance company. He did not immediately know if he would be able to stay in the house, or where he would go if he could not.

Brian Rittmeyer is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Brian at 724-226-4701, [email protected] or via Twitter @BCRittmeyer.