Botched tree removal job destroys Bellevue home

A tree removal job went terribly wrong in Bellevue on Monday, sending a 140-foot Douglas fir tree crashing down into a home in the Newport Hills neighborhood.

The neighbor who owned the tree told KIRO7 he was hoping to get the tree cut down for free in exchange for the wood.

It ended with his neighbor’s home getting destroyed.

Sarah Jacobsen said she and her husband both work from home, but she was running an errand when the incident happened Monday before lunchtime.

“The tree sliced through the whole house,” Jacobsen said. “It was just shocking.”

The tree smashed through the roof onto the furniture below in the living room. Jacobsen said that’s where she often works when she’s home, but it was her husband who heard the crash from another room.

“It was really loud. And then just progressively as the tree settled, more and more was coming in. Then the rain and hail was coming through. It was really crazy,” Jacobsen said.

The company called in to get the tree out, Turning Leaf Tree Service, said the tree was nearly 3 feet in diameter at its widest. The crew had to bring in a massive crane to get the tree removed from the house.

The tree was on Jacobsen’s neighbor’s property. He didn’t want to speak on camera but told KIRO7 he needed the tree removed because it frequently shed branches onto his roof.

He was hoping the removal could be done for free and said he posted online asking for someone to do the job in exchange for the wood. He told KIRO7 someone accepted, came by on Monday, and started doing the work despite the windy conditions.

But the neighbor said about 30 minutes in, the person cutting the tree told him the situation was “out of control” and suggested calling in a full tree removal crew.

But it was too late, and the tree came crashing down on the Jacobsens’ home.

“Half the house is completely destroyed,” Jacobsen said. “We sadly just finished a kitchen remodel and kind of remodeled in here.” She said it wasn’t clear yet if the rest of the home would be structurally sound enough to be saved or if the home would need to be leveled.

Jacobsen said the person cutting down the tree looked young, about college age.

Problem tree specialist Mike Green said people need to watch out for those who work without a license, aren’t bonded or have no insurance.

“If (a) customer doesn’t check that, you can work without it. It’s not legal and it’s not right. And you’ll pay the price,” said Green, who owns the company Hitman Tree LLC.

He said you should always check reviews and trust your gut.

“If the customer is going, ‘Oh my God, if this doesn’t work is going to ruin this or that,’ if you’re feeling that way, you should stop it. You should say, ‘Stop, stop, stop,’” Green said.

Jacobsen said they have to figure out where to live, but she is grateful no one got hurt.

“Nobody was impaled. So it’s a miracle,” Jacobsen said.

The neighbor who owned that tree said the person who tried to cut it down does not have insurance, and he doesn’t know if the worker had a license.

Turning Leaf Tree Service said taking down the 140-foot tree should have been a five- or six-person job with a price of $3,000-$4,000.