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PG&E tree removal concerns

A Paradise family said PG&E took trees off their property, even though the utility promised they could keep them.

Posted: May 28, 2019 1:46 PM
Updated: May 28, 2019 8:10 PM

PARADISE, Calif. - A Paradise family said PG&E took trees off their property, even though the utility promised they could keep them.

"This was a redwood my dad planted - I remember when he planted it, it was a beautiful tree," said Madde Watts, a resident of Paradise.

Watts walked through the wreckage of the home her family lived in since the 40s.

"This was his pride and joy," Watts said. "He planted everything, these trees were his pride and joy." 

PG&E sent out a letter this Spring telling customers in Paradise that they would remove all damaged trees, but property owners could keep the logs if they wanted.

"I called the number and said 'I do not want you taking any of my wood,'" Watts said. "We had logs stacked up. That was for my family." 

They found some solace in the fact they could at least keep the wood from these trees until one day they showed up on their property and it wasn't there.

"It was all gone, everything," Watts said. "And they damaged my back fence. I was just blown away." 

"We said we wanted our trees kept," said Julie Reyna, Watts' daughter. "The crews were wonderful to work with, they stacked them for us, and then this happens." 

"People have lost enough," Watts said. "Why do you keep things we want to keep? Somebody's making money on the side, I hate to say that but that's what I truly believe." 

PG&E said it was a mistake.

"We did find a situation where a contractor was not entering forms into the system so they wouldn't be hauled away," said Paul Moreno, a spokesperson for PG&E. "We have since addressed that and the contractor is not doing any work for PG&E." 

Moreno said the utility has a number of standards for their contracted workers and the utility keeps in touch with them constantly. 

"Typically we contract with a tree company, the tree company hires workers to work on their behalf and we do have a number of standards and we're in touch with them continuously," Moreno said. 

PG&E plans to replace the trees but the family said the emotional damage is done.

"People have lost enough, they've lost enough of their lives," Watts said. "Why take things that can offer peace and comfort to them? Trees can do that." 

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We're getting hotter as we head into the middle of this week, and the potential for thunderstorms will prompt a Fire Weather Watch in the Sierra on Thursday. Hot & dry conditions continue through your weekend.
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