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Tree clearing company calls equipment ‘dangerous’ after metal object hit Kitchener home

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New questions are being raised about the equipment that sent a chunk of metal flying through the air and into a Kitchener, Ont. home, missing the homeowner’s head by mere inches.

Robert Caluian was brushing his teeth Monday morning when the object crashed through his roof and landed in his washroom.

“It was like a jump scare. I just heard a loud sound,” he told CTV News on Thursday.

Caluian lives near Chicopee Ski & Summer Resort, which is currently undergoing an expansion. Part of that work includes clearing trees from parts of the property near Fairway Road North.

Chicopee CEO Bill Creighton said he spoke to his contractor doing that work and believes a tooth from a tree grinding machine broke off and went flying across a row of houses.

He described the equipment as a disc mulcher attachment that was put on an excavator.
“It's like a circular cheese grinder that, on the tree, would just grind it up,” he said in an interview on Thursday. “In his 40 years of being an operator, he's never experienced anything like this. He's actually very distraught.”

The contractor was not available to speak to CTV News.

Creighton said they were both still in shock.

“The thing about Chicopee is we're all about safety,” he added. “We put people in the air for skiing. So to have something happen in the off season of this strange nature is totally bizarre for us.”

Another company weighs in

Rayzor Edge Tree Services, based out of Elmira, is not involved in the resort’s expansion but they’re familiar with disc mulchers. Owner Ray Bowman said it is not illegal to use those attachments, though his company chooses not to.

“It's a very it's a dangerous mulcher to use,” Bowman told CTV News on Friday.

Instead, his company uses a drum mulcher that has a deflector or door you can pull down.

An example of a drum mulcher, this one owned by Rayzor Edge Tree Services in Elmira. (Heather Senoran/CTV Kitchener)

“The only purpose of that deflector is to keep the debris from flying out the front and having something like this happening,” he said.

According to Bowman, it isn’t uncommon for debris to be thrown without a door blocking it, but thinks a metal tooth breaking off would only happen in “extreme conditions.”

“It's a four-foot wide disc spinning at 2 to 3,000 r.p.ms. If something gets going with that disk and then lets go, it will fly over quite a distance for sure,” he said.

What’s next

Chicopee has apologized to the family and said the contractor is willing to pay for repairs to their home. Caluian said he’s grateful for the apology and feels lucky to be alive.

Tree clearing has been happening at Chicopee for the last few weeks and work is expected to wrap up in the next few days.

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