Firefighter gives tips on Christmas tree safety

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Christmas tree fires are an unexpected consequence of decorating your home for the holiday season.

According to the National Fire Prevention Association, U.S. Fire Departments respond to an average of 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees. But, a Christmas disaster is preventable and that prevention starts at the Christmas tree farm. One local firefighter said the fresher the tree, the better.

“So when you get to set it up, you want to have a nice base to it, however when you set it up you want to cut about two or three inches off the bottom of it,” Seth Evans, Firefighter with Beckley Fire Department, said. “That will allow water to be able to absorb up and keep the tree fresh and have it not dry out sooner.”

Evans said trees should not be placed less than three feet near any heat or power sources. Baseboard heaters, outlets and vents can quickly dry out a tree and make it more susceptible for a fire. He also said all lights and extension cords should be checked before decorating the tree.

“You do not want to use any type of frayed lights, you do not want a makeshift bunch of lights together and slap them on the tree,” Evans said. “You want to use a nice, new, maybe not even new, just make sure they are nice and not frayed, not strung all to pieces.”

Evans said the volume of calls from Christmas tree fires varies every year, but the risk is worth taking every effort of prevention possible, even if it means not placing it in the perfect spot.

“Even though it might look good in the picture perfect corner, you can pretty much set it up anywhere in your house as long as you are not blocking any exits,” Evans said. “If it is a corner you may not have it in like you normally do – it is better to have it up, kind of in a different place than to lose everything in your house.”

Evans said the same rules apply to fake Christmas trees.

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