NEWS

Surrey homeowner upset at city after tree lands on his house

01/21/2015 10:13 EST | Updated 03/23/2015 05:59 EDT
A Surrey, B.C. man is upset at the city after a massive tree fell on top of his house during an intense winter storm last month.

The homeowner says he wanted to cut down the tree years ago because he felt it was unsafe, but the city told him he wasn't allowed.

When the tree came down, it barely missed Guillermo Sisniegas. 

"I was saved by three feet. I was inside the house and it was an enormous explosion," he said. 

No one was hurt, but the roof of the home is badly damaged.

"If you look at the base, it had no roots and it was 100 feet tall. That's why it was easy to come down," he said.

The city said safety is its number one priority, but there is a process that has to followed before a tree can be cut down. 

Inspectors use a hazard scale of one to 12, with 12 being the most dangerous, to determine if a tree can be removed. Trees rated eight or lower are usually left alone.

"We will check the tree for rot, we'll check for a hazard assessment," said Surrey's trees and landscape manager Steve Whitton.

"We check things through a bylaw, like if it's too close to the house itself. We'll check anything to do with a reason if the tree might be removed."

Sisniesgas said he now has a major cleanup job to take care of before he can start fixing his roof. He has insurance, but he doesn't know how long it will be before his home is repaired.

It's a lot of work, but he said the situation could have been much worse.

"If the tree would have gone the opposite side to the adjacent houses, somebody would be dead right now because those houses couldn't take it," he said. 

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