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Christmas Tree Dried Out? Firefighter Explains How Dangerous They Can Be

Updated: 12/28/2013 11:57 PM
Created: 12/28/2013 6:19 PM WDIO.com
By: Alan Hoglund
ahoglund@wdio.com

With the holidays winding down, now is the time to toss out your Christmas trees. That is, if they're real. The Superior Fire Department says that when they dry out it doesn't take much for it to go up in flames.

Battalion Chief Steve Edwards says keeping a dried out tree in your living room is no different than a pile of kindling, or a ready-made campfire just waiting to burn. "Once it goes, it burns very fast and very hot, and it does a lot of damage."

Edwards said everyone should witness how serious it can be for themselves. "It will be fully engulfed in 10 or 15 seconds," he said.

Edwards pointed us to video from the National Fire Protection Association. You can see some of the video above. In it, they light two trees at the same time. One of the trees is dried out and the other had been watered regularly.

In just five seconds, the video shows flames on the dried tree reaching the ceiling. After a minute and a half, there isn't much left. But the watered tree was hardly charred.

Eyewitness News stopped at some tree recycling spots to get your reaction to the video.

"Holy cow," Jacob Gruwell, of Duluth said. "That's crazy."

Gruwell tells us he had no idea a fire could get so big, so fast.

When Brady Vidovic saw the video, he said "oh wow...I'm glad we watered our Christmas tree. That's amazing."

Just three days after Christmas, the Duluth man was dropping off his old tree at Chester Bowl, saying preventing a fire is part of the reason he's already taken it down.

The NFPA says an average of 230 home fires in the United States started with Christmas trees between 2007 and 2011. On its webpage, the association said "although these fires are not common, when they do occur, they are likely to be serious."

According to Edwards, they're not as common as when he started with the Superior Fire Department two decades ago.

Why?

"Over the years we've noticed a drop in use of real trees," Edwards said. He also said people are being more cautious.

So, if that tree is still standing at home, what should you look out for that could start a fire?

Edwards said "the most common thing is faulty wiring, lighting on the tree." He said candles, fireplaces and space heaters that are a little too close could light the tree too.

"It doesn't take much to get the tree to start on fire."

To find out where to get rid of your tree for free, click here.

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