A live Christmas tree can explode into a fireball in a matter of seconds.
Firefighters this month are urging people to be careful with trees inside their homes, a seasonal message they issue every year.
“Make sure it's as fresh and green as possible and make sure it's not drying out too much,” Oklahoma City fire Battalion Chief Brian Stanaland said.
Live trees will dry out in a few weeks, even if the tree is well-watered.
As soon as Christmas is over, “get the tree out of the house,” Stanaland said.
“In a manner of seconds a tree can go up in flames that shoot 10 to15 feet in the air,” he said.
Keep the tree away from heat sources such as a floor or wall furnace, space heater or fireplace. Christmas lights should be checked for any frayed wires or broken bulb sockets. The newer model LED lights are safer, Stanaland said.
Fire Maj. Kevin Berry said Christmas decorations and trees can pose fire hazards in a home if not handled properly. One good practice is to turn the Christmas lights off at night and when you aren't home by unplugging them, he said.
The same common sense rules go for artificial trees, Stanaland said. Keep them away from any source of heat.
Cold weather fires
It is a good time of year to check smoke alarms and batteries to make sure alarms work properly, Stanaland said.
As weather turns colder, a number of heating-related fires are reported each year.
A fire damaged a house in Oklahoma City in late November because a space heater was too close to combustibles, Stanaland said. No injuries were reported.
Natural gas-burning heaters and furnaces should be checked to make sure they don't pose carbon monoxide dangers.
Fireplace logs can roll out onto the carpet if not held in with proper grates and screens. Also, chimney fires are common in winter, Stanaland said. Creosote builds up in the chimney and can catch fire.
And, one last tip, don't burn Christmas wrapping paper in the fireplace, he said.