Tree disease outbreak threatens power lines in Oak Ridge

This undated file photo provided by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources shows an adult emerald ash borer. (Source: ABC News)

OAK RIDGE (WATE) – The city of Oak Ridge is dealing with an outbreak of tree disease that is threatening the city’s electric system.

City officials say ash trees in the area are dead or dying due to a pest called the Emerald Ash Borer. Once compromised by the beetle, the trees can pose a hazard to people, property and power lines. City of Oak Ridge Electric Department Director Jack Suggs says an informal survey concluded most if not all of the ash trees in Oak Ridge are affected.

The Emerald Ash Borer was introduced to the United States about 15 years ago and since then have killed thousands of trees.

The Oak Ridge Electric Department is working to identify and deal with ash trees on public rights of way that could impact power lines. If ash trees are found on private property, the owners will be contacted to discuss safety concerns and possible options.

Residents are urged to search their properties for ash trees and if they find any, call a tree professional to find out if it can be saved or if it has to be removed.

“Left untreated, every ash tree in Oak Ridge will die and die quickly,” said Suggs.

People are also urged to request qualifications and insurance certificates of anyone they hire.

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