The house is barely visible behind Shane McDaniel’s woodpile in Lake Stevens. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

The house is barely visible behind Shane McDaniel’s woodpile in Lake Stevens. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

Lake Stevens could fine famous wood stocker $70,000 a month

Shane McDaniel worries the wood won’t reach the needy. The city says it’s unsafe but won’t fine him.

LAKE STEVENS — Piles of wood sit outside of Shane McDaniel’s Lake Stevens home, some mounds nearly as tall as the single-story house.

An American flag is planted on top of the highest hill.

McDaniel has been collecting firewood for about a year and giving it to those in need. The tale of the small-town woodchopper has been told internationally, making him somewhat of a viral sensation.

McDaniel owns Norm’s Market, a gas station and mini mart known for its beer selection. He’s been keeping wood there, too, across the street from Lundeen Park.

Now the city says it’s a fire hazard and that the wood needs to be moved.

Wednesday night, McDaniel posted on Facebook the violation notices he’s received from the city.

He wrote that Lake Stevens officials have threatened to fine him $70,000 a month if he doesn’t move the wood soon. He also alleges that city workers brought a load of logs to his house after it was cut down from a big project at North Cove Park, near downtown.

Mayor John Spencer said the city does not intend to fine McDaniel, and that no city workers brought logs to his house.

“Any wood that was dropped off at his property, it had to have been from one of the tree cutters that came in and cut danger trees down for us and moved them away,” Spencer said. “Once the tree cutter’s gone and has moved the timber it’s not ours … the city did not drop any logs off at his house.”

Late Thursday afternoon, McDaniel said the city’s public works department offered to bring the dump truck full of wood to his house.

Mayor Spencer could not be reached to comment on that detail Thursday evening.

The city first began to talk with McDaniel about the wood in the summer, said Russ Wright, the city’s community development director.

Neighbors started to complain, and it had become a security and fire hazard, according to the city.

Shane McDaniel (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Shane McDaniel (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

One of the main concerns is wood stored at Norm’s is near gas tanks, Wright said.

So far, the city has not fined McDaniel.

“That begs the question of what if he doesn’t move the pile?” Spencer said. “The answer to that is, to be blunt, we aren’t going to fine him. We’ll get volunteers to help move the pile and get volunteers to find people in need and help him achieve his goal.”

McDaniel worries if that happens the wood won’t end up in the right homes.

He also believes the offer could be for political gain, because the city has never talked about giving this kind of help before.

From the air, the most prominent feature at Shane McDaniel’s house in Lake Stevens is a growing woodpile. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

From the air, the most prominent feature at Shane McDaniel’s house in Lake Stevens is a growing woodpile. (Chuck Taylor / The Herald)

“Where were you when we were splitting wood for the last nine months?” McDaniel said. “It would be a crying shame to see this go to the wrong homes.”

McDaniel received a notice of violation from the city last month. Because of that, the city could issue fines at any time.

McDaniel plans to start donating the fire wood within the next couple of weeks. He gets help from his two sons and their friends.

Stephanie Davey: 425-339-3192; sdavey@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @stephrdavey.

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