MISSOULA – There are over 1,000 home structure fires that involve decorations, candles and Christmas trees every year.
The Missoula Rural Fire District is passing along information to help people be safe and happy this holiday season.
About 200 home fires are started every year by Christmas trees and on Friday, the MRFD conducted a Christmas tree fire safety demonstration.
Firefighters put together a mock Christmas living room, complete with decorations, presents and a comfy recliner — then they set it on fire.
MRFD Fire Chief Chris Newman said a dried out tree burns fast and can cause a lot of damage.
“You can definitely tell from the video footage how quick that happened. I believe it was under four minutes until we started putting it out,” Newman said.
“So you can imagine that smoke and heat in someone’s home, how devastating that would be.”
Captain Ron Lubke says you should make sure your smoke detectors are working properly, “it’s a fun time of year for everyone but it can easily become a tragic time too.”
You can stay safe over the holidays by taking necessary precautions.
Choose a tree that has fresh, green needles and water it daily. Keep it at least three feet away from heat sources, like heaters and candles.
Don’t block any exits, and remember to turn off the lights when they’re not being used.
Fires can also be prevented by using flame- resistant decorations and being careful about lighting candles, especially when using a menorah or kinara.
“We certainly want everyone to have a happy holiday and a safe one and be careful out there,” Lubke said.
Fire officials also want to remind people how quickly the holidays can become dangerous, and remind folks to be careful.
Captain Newman says they don’t actually see a lot of Christmas tree fires, but there are calls every year around the holidays.
Story by Katie Miller, MTN News