Tarentum homeowner worries about repairing house after fallen tree removed | TribLIVE.com
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Brian C. Rittmeyer

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 doesn’t get inside and cause further damage.

“I had to get it off of my house,” Lee said of the tree. “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 inspected the house Friday morning and approved temporary occupancy for Lee.

“I believe there is less of a threat now that the tree is not resting on the house,” Bruni said Friday morning.

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

“I might not have enough coverage to cover the damages,” he said. ‘Then what do I do?”

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

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 and had bees nests in it, and he was informed a nearby tree still standing is also rotted.

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

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

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

Jeff Woleslagle, a Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry spokesman, 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 the tree’s removal.

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