Beware of holiday hazards; tips to prevent Christmas tree fires

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by Catherine Holland

GMAZ interview by Scott Pasmore

Posted on December 24, 2013 at 11:02 AM

Updated Tuesday, Dec 24 at 12:49 PM

VALLEYWIDE -- As fun and the holidays are, they also can be dangerous.

Fire departments throughout the Valley are warning people to make sure their live trees are well watered and to keep ignition sources as far from their trees as possible.

Larissa Dvorak of the Mesa Fire Department demonstrated just how fast a moderately dry tree can burn. Flames engulfed the entire tree in seconds.

Dvorak said the majority of house fires in December and even into January are related to Christmas trees.

"This time of the year , most of the home fires -- a great many of them -- are due to dried-out Christmas trees," Mesa fire Capt. Dean Morales reiterated.

Morales urged people to inspect their lights to make sure all of the bulbs are tight and the wiring is in good condition. Flickering lights can be a sign of potential trouble.

Also, never connect more than three strands of lights.

"Don't ever take any chances with your lighting," he said.

Also, make sure that your tree, which should be watered daily,  is at least 3 to 4 feet from other heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, heat vents and lights.

Once a tree catches fire, it can spread quickly to the rest of the room. In general, house fires double in size every 30 seconds.

The National Fire Protection Association suggests you dispose of your tree when it starts dropping needles.

Christmas tree disposal/recycle information:
•Phoenix: http://phoenix.gov/publicworks/recycling/christmastreecycling.html
•Mesa: http://www.mesaaz.gov/waste/Christmas_Tree_Recycling.aspx
•Apache Junction:  http://www.ajcity.net/calendar.aspx?eid=975
•Queen Creek: http://www.queencreek.org/what-s-new/calendar/-curm-1/-cury-2013/-item-10887
•Gilbert: http://www.gilbertaz.gov/headlinenews/shownews.cfm?recordID=1183
•Chandler: http://www.chandleraz.gov/newsrelease.aspx?N_UID=2409
•Tempe: http://www.tempe.gov/index.aspx?page=1013
•Scottsdale: http://www.scottsdaleaz.gov/recycle/brushmap

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