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SAFD burns Christmas tree to warn of danger

Fire Chief warns of fire danger with dry live trees

SAN ANTONIO - The San Antonio Fire Department staged a dramatic, fiery scene Thursday to make a point: dry Christmas trees can burn and burn fast.
"Having a dry Christmas tree in your living room is equivalent of having a 5-gallon can of gasoline in your house," SAFD Fire Chief Charles Hood said.
Within nine seconds of igniting tree, flames had crawled up the tree and were lapping at the ceiling of the makeshift living room. The smoke detector sounded a few seconds later.
"The main killer in a house fire is smoke," Hood said, "and you can see how quickly smoke rises to the ceiling."
At 20 seconds, flames had consumed the entire tree and were burning the fake packages placed around it.
If the scene had been real, most of the rooms of the house would have smoke at their ceilings after about 45 seconds in, according to Hood.
And, a little more than 1 minute after the fire started, choking thick smoke filled the structure. Anyone trying to escape such a fire should stay low where the air is cleanest, Hood said.
Dry trees make prime tinder. So, Hood urged homeowners to keep them away from fireplaces, heaters and candles.
"Check all your electrical outlets for shorts, overloading, and don't leave your house with the tree on or go to bed with the tree on," Hood said.
After Christmas, homeowners should properly dispose of drying trees as soon as possible because holidays can go up in flames in a matter of seconds.
Artificial trees, while not as quick to burn as a live tree, do still burn. The needles are usually plastic and that fuels flames.

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