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Arborists, tree service companies swamped months after February’s ice storm

<i>KPTV</i><br/>Tree service companies say they're busier than ever
Tree service companies say they're busier than ever

By Drew Marine

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    OREGON CITY, Oregon (KPTV) — It’s been quite the year for arborists – the ice storm this year took down a lot of trees and the heat we’ve seen is doing the same. Right now, local tree service companies say they’re busier than ever, some even said they’re booked up for months.

“We can’t get a tree guy, a tree person and you need to be an expert to clean that up,” David Efurd, who lives in Oregon City, said.

Efurd said he still has broken tree limbs from this year’s ice storm.

“All the limbs have broken and they’re hanging down, but they haven’t fallen off. Eventually they will, if we don’t get the arborist out there to get them off,” he said.

He said he’s been on a waitlist to get them cleared since March, but still hasn’t been able to get an arborist out to his property. He’s especially worried for wildfire season, because his home barely escaped a brushfire that started along Highway 99 East on Wednesday.

“They’ve had us on their list but we’re trying to get reprioritized,” Efurd said. “There’s no green in those trees, they’re totally brown. It would just be an inferno and it’s right by our house.”

One local business, Monkeyman’s Tree Service company, said they’ve been swamped.

“It’s been wild,” Owner Chris Ruvalcaba, said.

But why? He said it all started with February’s ice storm.

“You know, just an astronomical amount of tree failures. We went through maybe four months of immediate response to get through all the hazardous and dangerous work. Now that it’s summer it’s turned into fuel reduction because of the heat. So, all this abundance of branches on the ground and fuel, now becomes a dangerous fire risk. We’re in the middle of both of that right now,” Ruvalcaba said.

He said they’re getting more requests for fuel reduction services than he’s seen in five years. Right now, he said it’s taking them about six weeks to get to customers.

“Last year was a wakeup call for people. I think people were already looking this year to do fuel reduction and defensible spaces, then the ice storm came, and it was a violent shove for everybody to get on it and get on it quickly,” Ruvalcaba said.

However, he said there’s no one recommendation for how much defensible space should be around your home.

“This would be a good question to ask your insurance,” Ruvalcaba said. “Defensible space could be a 15-foot swath, or what’s called a break, from the foliage in your property for firefighters to access your property if there is a fire. But, I would get with insurance. Usually, you want to stay 100 feet from the house completely defensible.”

He said if you try to clear your own defensible space, make sure you have the proper PPE, but the safest thing you can do is call a professional to get the job done.

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