INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – With Christmas over, many have begun taking down their decorations and trees. Fire departments urge people with live Christmas trees to take them down soon, to help prevent fires.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) keeps track of Christmas tree and decoration fires. It says people should take down their trees after Christmas, as the dried-out trees become a fire danger and should not be left in a garage or along the side of a home.
The NFPA reports that between 2011 and 2015, U.S. fire departments responded to an average of 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees annually. Those fires caused an average of six deaths, 16 injures and $14.8 million in direct property damage.
"People tend to not water them correctly," said Lt. Corey Johnson of the Pike Township Fire Department. "Just from the ambient temperature inside a home, the trees and bristles will start to dry out."
The NFPA demonstrates how quickly a fire can spread on a dry tree. It shows a tree going up in flames in under 20 seconds. Johnson said most trees would go up within a couple minutes.
Columbus firefighters dealt with a Christmas tree-related fire early Sunday morning. It happened within an hour after midnight on Christmas Eve at a mobile home park in the city. A fire investigator at the department said the homeowner was home when the fire began and found the fire after his smoke detector went off.
Johnson said fire departments support recycling programs as it helps encourage people to take down their decorations more quickly.
"The sooner you get rid of it, the better," he said.