Fire officials urge caution regarding Christmas trees

(Source: KGBT Photo)

Thanksgiving may be over but many are getting into the spirit with a popular holiday decoration, a Christmas tree.

It’s a tradition Harlingen resident, Sylvia Soilz, follows at the peak of this season.

"Every year, I'm a regular customer here. I love the tree selection," Soliz said. "I love it, I like it to be full, I like decorate it with lots of ornaments."

Ornaments and decorations not only bring the beauty of the holiday spirt into your home but can also be potentially dangerous.

According the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), during the holiday season, nearly 43 percent of house fires are caused by lighting equipment on the Christmas tree.

A reality that the San Benito Fire Department says is also seen in the Valley.

“A Christmas tree that is dried out can engulf a whole room in fire in less than 30 seconds." Jose Luis Perez with the San Benito Fire Department said.

Perez says during this season the most common fires they respond to are caused by heaters, cooking and Christmas trees.

Between 2012 through 2016, fire departments responded to nearly 800 house fires per year that began with decorations, according to information from the NFPA.

"If you are going to have a live Christmas tree make sure that you are watering it twice, weekly to make sure it stays green. If it is green, it is less likely to catch fire," Perez said.

Perez explains it is extremely important to take care of the trees since they are flammable when they dry out in your home. Fire officials recommend that you check if there’s any cracking on the Christmas light wires to prevent any fires. Finally, do not place a live Christmas tree close to a heater. But place it several feet away so the tree doesn't catch fire.

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