Fire department displays flammability of Christmas trees

Posted at: 12/12/2012 5:26 PM
Updated at: 12/12/2012 5:40 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

The Albuquerque Fire Department delivered a dramatic message Wednesday afternoon, showing exactly how Christmas trees and Christmas decorations can turn your home into an inferno.

Firefighters ignited a dried-up Christmas tree in a cheaply furnished room - actually a "burn room" -  for training at the Fire Academy.

A firefighter used a small torch to simulate a short-circuited electrical wire to set the tree on fire. It was toast within seconds. The furniture was next; much of it plastic, melting and burning and sending up choking clouds of black smoke. A real house would have been barbecued in a matter of a few minutes. Firefighters said people use a lot of fire sources in their homes at Christmas time.

"People are using their fireplaces," said Fire Chief James Breen. "They're using candles, they have Christmas tree lighting. It's a very festive time but we want our citizens to be safe."

Then there are candles and luminarias and farolitos. Firefighters said smoke alarms are crucial, along with a family escape plan to get everybody out of a dark smoky house.

Then there's prevention. Always pick a fresh Christmas tree, and keep it watered.

"I do worry about it but I put water on it every day," said Nancy Buckles, who just bought a tree Wednesday morning in the North Valley. "I think that's what people need to remember. Keep water in the tree so it doesn't dry up."

If the tree has needles that turn dull and brittle and start falling off, ditch it! Firefighters said that's the time to get it out of the house.

The fire department has an in-depth list of things you can do to help avert a fiery disaster this Christmas. The link is here.