Death prompts tree-cutting warning

February 03, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

RANSON, W.Va. - After a weekend in which tree-cutting accidents left a West Virginia man dead and a Maryland man injured, an emergency official says people need to be careful when they start cutting trees.

"There are a lot of hazards to be concerned with,'' said Darrell G. Penwell, director of the Jefferson County Office of Emergency Services.

Paul Miller Jr., 48, of Charles Town, W.Va., was clearing trees from near a fence row with a friend Saturday afternoon when a tree he had cut pinned him against another tree, West Virginia State Police said.


The accident occurred about 12:30 p.m. on a farm off Darke Lane in Jefferson County, troopers said.

In Maryland on Saturday, a Hancock man using a chain saw to cut down trees on Seabolt Road was treated at Washington County Hospital and released after a limb fell on him.

Penwell said it is important to keep safety in mind while using chain saws and cutting down trees .

Many people cut firewood at this time of year for next winter, Penwell said, because sap in the trees is low during the winter, making it quicker for the wood to dry out.

Penwell suggests tree-cutters have an escape route cleared through surrounding brush as they fell trees. That way, they can get away if the tree falls in an unexpected direction, Penwell said.

Other suggestions for cutting trees safely, from Stihl and Oregon chainsaw manufacturers:

  • Always check tree tops for branches (known as "widow makers") that may dislodge and fall into the work area.
  • Take note of the tree's general condition. Inexperienced cutters should never attempt to cut trees which are decaying or rotted inside or which are leaning or otherwise under tension.

There is an increased risk such trees can snap or split while being cut and cause serious injury.

  • Look out for holes and ditches, or roots that could be tripped over.
  • Stand on the uphill side when felling a tree on a slope..
  • Minors should never use a chainsaw. Children and animals should not be allowed in the area of cutting.
  • Don't leave the chainsaw running attended.
  • Don't use a chainsaw while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
The Herald-Mail Articles