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Tarentum homeowner worries about repairing house after fallen tree removed | TribLIVE.com
Valley News Dispatch

Tarentum homeowner worries about repairing house after fallen tree removed

Brian C. Rittmeyer
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Brian C. Rittmeyer | Tribune-Review
A tree that fell on a home on Allegheny Street in Tarentum the morning of Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2019 had been removed by Friday morning, Feb. 15, 2019.
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Louis B. Ruediger | Tribune-Review
Tarentum resident Frank Lee of 400 Allegheny Avenue assess the damage to his home after a large Buck Eye tree fell Tuesday morning Feb 13, 2019.

The extent of the damage caused to a Tarentum home when a tree fell on it Wednesday was more apparent Friday after the tree had been removed.

The buckeye tree that fell on Frank Lee’s house at 400 Allegheny St. was removed Thursday afternoon, Lee said.

Lee was back in his house, despite the extensive damage that had been done to the roof. The hole in the roof was covered so rain does not get inside and cause further damage.

The removal went pretty well, Lee said.

“I had to get it off of my house,” he said. “That was a lot of weight on the house.”

Borough officials had advised Lee to not stay in the house Wednesday night, when the tree was still resting against it. Code enforcement Officer Anthony Bruni said he would be inspecting the house after the tree was removed to assess its habitability.

“I believe there is less of a threat now that the tree is not resting on the house,” Bruni said Friday morning. “I think at this point he could occupy the house again, but I want to double check the interior.”

Lee said he’s expecting an adjuster from his insurance company Monday.

“I might not have enough coverage to cover the damages. Then what do I do?” he said. “I guess my coverage isn’t the greatest.”

The tree was standing at the front of a vacant lot next to Lee’s house. The lot is owned by Donald and Leslie Yoest and Matthew and Holly Plocki, according to Allegheny County real estate records. They have owned it since 2011.

Matthew Plocki and Donald Yoest are co-owners of Pitt Specialty Supply , located across the street along Fourth Avenue.

Yoest said they had no comment when reached in-person at the business.

Lee said the tree service told him the tree that fell was rotted, had been “eaten out” and had bees nests in it. Lee said he was informed that a second tree still standing next to the one that fell is also rotted.

Lee said someone from Pitt Specialty Supply came to him the day the tree fell and claimed they would not be paying for any of the damage to his home because they had wanted to take the tree down but had been prevented from doing so because the tree was somehow protected.

The representative of the business claimed to have a letter to that effect, but both Lee and Bruni said Pitt Specialty has not produced it.

“No one knows what he’s talking about,” Lee said.

Bruni said he checked with a state forester with the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and she “has no indication that buckeye trees are on an endangered list or protected status.

“In addition, a copy of a letter denying the request to cut down the trees has not been produced and presented to our office,” he said.

Jeff Woleslagle, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry, said the buckeye is not listed as rare, threatened or endangered in the state.

“We do not send letters out like that to inform people they can’t remove a tree,” he said.

Lauren Fraley, a spokeswoman with the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the tree would not be an issue for that agency.

Allegheny County spokeswoman Amie Downs said she was not aware of anything at the county level that would have prevented removal of the tree.

Lee was still bothered that the business had approached him that day.

“I don’t think that’s something you do to somebody that’s going through a crisis,” he said.

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