Start the New Year off Right: Promptly Dispose of Christmas Trees
State Fire Marshal Peter J. Ostroskey said, “Start the new year off right by promptly disposing of your Christmas tree. A dried out Christmas tree will ignite quickly and spread a fire very fast.”
Ostroskey said, “Whether your tradition is to put up your Christmas tree right after Thanksgiving or just before Christmas, even a well-watered tree quickly dries out and becomes a danger.” Whatever your tradition, trees should be taken down promptly, and disposed of properly.
Disposal of the Tree
Take advantage of community pick-up days or recycling programs, many of which start this week. To find out if your community has a Christmas tree recycling program, contact your local public works department or recycling committee. The Mass. Department of Environmental Protection has information on Christmas tree recycling at www.mass.gov/DEP.
Dried Out Trees Are Fuel for Fires Indoors and Out
In the past few years, there have been several fires involving Christmas trees that lingered too long in homes.
On January 9, 2012, at 9:11 a.m., the Lunenburg Fire Department was called to a fire in a 4-unit condominium. Smoking materials ignited the living room sofa and spread to the dried out Christmas tree next to the couch. A single sprinkler head activated and controlled the fire. Smoke alarms were present and operated but no one was home at the time of the fire in the unit where the fire started. The dog was rescued. People were home in some of the other units but no one was hurt. None of the occupants were displaced and damages from this fire were estimated at $27,000.
Ostroskey said, “Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a building with fire sprinklers like these folks were. So it’s important to take a few steps to protect your family from fire and dispose of your tree promptly.”
On January 12, 2014, at 6:13 p.m., the Walpole Fire Department was called to a fire in a single-family home. The Christmas tree in the living room had ignited and someone had tried to push it out a nearby sliding door, where it got stuck. The fire soon spread to the roof joists. Two residents were injured. Smoke alarms were present and alerted the occupants to the fire. Firefighters were able to quickly knock down the fire. The home did not have sprinklers and damages were estimated to be $50,000.
Ostroskey said, “Discarded Christmas trees can also provide an easy fuel for arsonists. An abandoned tree is frequently attractive to vandals.”
On January 3, 2015, at 2:52 a.m., the Somerville Fire Department responded to an outdoor Christmas tree fire on the side of the road. Someone had intentionally lit the tree on fire.
On April 11, 2015, at 11:10 p.m., the Stow Fire Department responded to an outdoor Christmas tree fire in the back yard of a single-family home. The homeowner was burning the tree but it was out when the firefighters arrived. The crew advised the homeowner about outdoor burning regulations and wet down the surrounding area so there was no chance of the fire spreading. Open burning can only occur with a permit and between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
For more information on fire safety, contact your local fire department or the Office of the State Fire Marshal at 1-877-9 NO FIRE or on-line at www.mass.gov/dfs.