Wayne County woman says DTE wires have caused 2 fires, dozens of scares at her home

Officials say addition was built too close to power lines

By Jason Colthorp - Anchor/Reporter, Derick Hutchinson

BROWNSTOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. - A power struggle is ongoing in Brownstown Township as a family victimized by two fires over the years is fighting with DTE Energy over the power lines running next to the home.

The homeowner's complaints underscore a current problem for DTE. The state Public Service Commission has launched an investigation into repeated power outages and the death of a Detroit woman who touched a downed line in her yard.

"It's to the point I feel like I'm risking my life just to come out here to cut the grass," resident Teri Rybski said.

In 2003, a power line caused a grass fire on Rybski's property in Brownstown Township, and in June 2015, much of her home burned down.

"What happened to all the promises they made when my house burned down?" Rybski asked.

Since then, Rybski has been hoping that DTE Energy officials would move the lines or replace them so they wouldn't overhang on her property.

Officials offered a temporary fix, but Rybski and her husband said they've seen almost three dozen splices.

"We might see a few sparks, like sparkler sparks, come down," Rybski said. "Then you hear an explosion and the lines break, and then they drop.

"The wires have literally broken and fallen 35 times."

DTE officials said it's not dangerous because they're always inspecting the lines and investing in upgrading infrastructure, but that doesn't keep Rybski from fearing for her safety.

"Once you live through this, you can't help but think that way," Rybski said.

DTE officials said that when the Rybskis added a garage to their home, it was too close to the power lines, which is why there's overhang. The Rybskis disputed that and made it clear all their buildings are on their property.

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