Dead tree, power lines threaten Tampa homes

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – There is something large looming near 82-year-old Shirley Harris’ Tampa home.

A towering pine tree died in June. Rotting, dead limbs and branches threaten high voltage wires.

Shirley’s son Jim lives there too.

He worries if this tree comes down, it may take more than power lines.

“If it did fall on the house or the neighbors houses, it’s putting lives in danger,” said Jim.

Tampa Electric Company’s tree service showed up at Shirley’s place, cut down some palm trees near the wires, reduced another huge pine to a sizable stump and left a load of lumber in the yard.

But it won’t touch the dead tree.

Why?

TECO says it’s because the tree is dead. It also claims there is little room to maneuver in the yard, where its tree service already worked.

The liability, it says, falls on Jim and Shirley.

“I’m not going to put my life in danger trimming around these trees,” said Jim. “They’re supposed to take care of it.”

Jim and Shirley hired Pete and Ron’s Tree Service to take down the dead pine.

According to TECO, the tree company scheduled a line outage so it could do the work, then canceled.

“Their workers’ compensation and OSHA says ‘no way are you guys getting near 10 foot of that 7500 volt wire, and with good reason,'” explained Jim.

That’s odd, because the contract proposal Pete and Ron’s provided says the company will contact TECO for line clearance.

According to Jim, Pete and Ron’s told him killing the power on this line would affect eight blocks of homes and businesses and TECO didn’t want to do that.

TECO contends power line outages are part of doing business.

“Kind of stuck in the middle,” stated Jim.

And stuck with a very large problem looming overhead.

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