SUN CITY, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Imagine waking up to a fiery inferno of explosions and flames shooting through your home, and just two days before Christmas. It was a real nightmare for one Valley man who believes his Christmas tree is to blame.
In an exclusive interview with us, Larry Head wants to send a holiday warning.
It was indeed a terrifying ordeal for Head. One minute he was ready to celebrate, the next he was trying to save his life. A fresh tree and Christmas decor lit up his newly remodeled home, but in a flash, it was gone within minutes.
Bright red and orange flames shot through his home in the early hours just after midnight.
"Wow, oh my I haven't gotten emotional about it yet," he tells us as he holds back tears.
Cell phone video taken by a neighbor and the Sun City fire department shows just how quickly the fire took hold of his home.
"I heard a crackling popping noise," he tells us. "The whole tree was full of flames, hitting the roof, and smoke was coming out this way. I'll never get that image out of my brain."
Head says he'll never forget how loud the popping noises were. In fact, that's what woke him up. And, luckily he made it out through a window.
"Explosions were going off, I mean, bang, I mean the glasses were breaking, it was super quite out but just the eeriest crashes and booms," he explains.
As he sees the aftermath, Head is still in shock and devastated by the loss. It's a home he owned with his parents for over 20 years, and recently remodeled.
"You can't even see it anymore, it's just all gone, the fire just melted it."
Earlier, Head had hosted a block party and had the place decorated with a real Christmas tree he bought nine days ago, lit up with new and old lights. He remembers seeing at least one strand flickering, and believes, that could have sparked the blaze.
Now, since he decorated with new lights but also a few old strands, he's hoping viewers will heed his warning. He says he'll never use old strands again, and he's even steering clear from ever buying a real live Christmas tree.
"I will advocate never selling a live tree the rest of my life," he states. "Absolutely that's the most dangerous thing."
The Sun City Fire Department is still investigating the cause of the fire, but they did have advice. They say most of these fires are caused by overloading the circuits with too many lights and electronics. That's something to keep in mind, and, not just for this time of year.
At the same time, Head is grateful to be alive and hopes something good comes out of his trauma.
"I'm going to be okay, because I get to live to see the blessings."