KERNERSVILLE, N.C. — For Kernersville couple Mike and Judy Murphy, the 50-or-so Leyland cypress trees lining their property have long been a source of privacy. However, in October 2013, when coupled with Duke Energy power lines, they became an imminent danger.
“It was very frightening.” Mike Murphy said. “I mean, we thought the house might catch fire.”
The trees, which had been planted around 1984, had grown tall enough to touch the power lines which provide power to the Murphy’s home. On Oct. 1, 2013, they caught fire.
“We thought maybe the fire could jump and the firemen were afraid of that,” Murphy added.
Duke Energy employees responded and cut off the power so firefighters could extinguish the flames before any additional damage was done.
“Of course, shortly thereafter they came out and they trimmed the trees,” Murphy added.
However, about three years later, the trees once again grew to where they were touching the wires.
“Our neighbor was starting to get flickering on his lights,” Murphy recalled.
After several attempts to get Duke to trim them, the Murphys received several letters in response saying, in part, that there was not “an immediate need to address the vegetation from an electric service, safety or reliability standpoint.”
By October 2017, they say the lights would occasionally flicker in both their home and their next-door neighbor’s. But, in December, their anxiety reached a breaking point.
“The last big snowstorm, you could come out here and you could see sparks in the wires,” Murphy said.
The Murphys say, in late December, they were told the trees would be trimmed on Jan. 5.
When they weren’t, the Murphys reached out to FOX8.
“After Duke got your phone call, within 15 minutes they called us and set up an appointment to come out here within an hour,” Murphy told FOX8’s Michael Hennessey.
Shortly after 2:00 p.m. Monday, a Duke Energy employee was at the property, discussing solutions.
“We’ve come to a decision they’re going to trim the trees,” Murphy said. “They’re going to do it starting tomorrow morning because of the possibility of snow.”
A Duke Energy spokesperson tells FOX8 that there was a miscommunication and the trees had not been trimmed far enough away from the power lines to prevent issues during the last tree trimming cycle. They apologized for the inconvenience, and frustration, adding that they will have an engineer come to the property to help the Murphys and their neighbors relocate their power lines to prevent any further issues.
“It’s wonderful,” Murphy said. “We’ve been fighting this for months and now it’s a great relief.”