Will Midtbo, Merlin Law Group’s Marketing Director, rushed in to my office last week and told me
we need to make sure that we post about the danger of fire and Christmas trees. I think Will was
hoping that he could use my post as a reason to get out of decorating a tree this year. I told him I
would post an update on the blog discussing fires involving Christmas trees but told Will he needed to get in the holiday spirit because it was already December!

As Chip Merlin has posted, Christmas trees don’t spontaneously combust and cause fire, but there is an increased risk around the holidays especially when electrical outlets are over loaded or candles are left burning and not watched in a home with a Christmas tree.

With all of the busy holiday festivities, special care must still be taken to ensure that you don’t jeopardize your family and your home.

Last January, a horrific fire linked to an electrical failure ignited a dry, 15-foot-tall Christmas tree in a fire that destroyed an Annapolis, Maryland, killing four children and their grandparents. Having the large, dry tree in the house helped the fire to spread and increased the intensity.

According to CNN:

“The blaze started in the waterfront mansion’s great room, with 19-foot ceilings and connections to living and sleeping areas. It was fed by a towering Christmas tree that was cut about two months earlier, fire officials said.

The tree was lit most of the time, officials said.

‘The fuel load from the Christmas tree itself is what created the significant amount of fire and heat to cause the fire to spread as quickly as it did,’ Deputy Chief Scott Hoglander said.

Authorities were alerted within minutes by a fire-alarm system monitored outside the home and a neighbor’s 911 call. The home, which was constructed before 2005 legislation requiring a sprinkler system, did not have the devices.”

Christmas trees can go up in flames in just seconds and the room will be filled with smoke and fire spread to the entire home quickly. This Maryland family had the fire-alarm monitor but the intensity and quickness of the fire killed the family.

This holiday season, make sure you take the following precautions:

  • Look for a tree with vibrant green needles that are hard to pluck and don’t break easily from its branches. The tree shouldn’t be shedding its needles readily.
  • Always place your tree away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights and keep the tree base filled with water to avoid a dry out
  • Make sure all your indoor and outdoor Christmas lights have been tested in a lab by the UL or ETL/ITSNA for safety and throw out any damaged lights.
  • Any lights you use outdoors must be labeled suitable for exterior placement and be sure to plug into a ground-fault circuit interrupter protected receptacle.
  • Keep all your holiday candles away from your Christmas tree, surrounding furniture and décor.
  • Bedtime means lights off ¬ don’t forget to turn your Christmas tree light switch each night
  • When your tree begins to drop its needles, it’s time to say goodbye to your evergreen foliage until next year. So this year, follow our guidelines to avoid being another statistic in the National Fire Protection Association or United States Fire Administration report during the upcoming holiday season.1

Another good tip if you are buying a pre-cut tree is to shave off an inch or two from the stump of the tree so water can be easily absorbed and when in doubt, don’t hang up the old lights anywhere—inside or out—you will already be out shopping for that tree, just buy new!

1 http://www.christmastreeassociation.org/Article%20Pages/Fire_safety_tips_for_your_Christmas_tree.