Tens of thousands of dead and decaying trees are standing or leaning in Detroit, waiting to fall on power lines, cars, streets, garages and houses.
When 60 mph wind gusts tore through the city on March 8, thousands of trees fell; some of them landed on power lines, leading to the largest outbreak of fires since at least 2010.
Dead ash trees are pervasive in Detroit after they were decimated by the emerald ash borer in the early 2000s. Towering dead elm trees also are pervasive.
Until last year, the city largely ignored the dead trees because of budget restraints. But last year, the city began removing 3,000 dead trees and plans to cut down another 3,000 by year’s end.
DTE Energy is responsible for trees within 10 feet of a power line. In many areas, power lines are crowded by dead trees. The energy company insists it doesn’t have enough money to clear the trees.
This week, Motor City Muckraker toured two sections of the east side that were hit hard by the wind-fueled fires. Here’s what we found.
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Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.