Fires from Christmas tree decorations rare, but deadly - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Fires from Christmas tree decorations rare, but deadly

Gulfport fire inspector Tim Regan shows how decorations can create problems if you are not careful. Gulfport fire inspector Tim Regan shows how decorations can create problems if you are not careful.
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

It doesn’t take long for holiday lights to become a holiday nightmare.

Gulfport fire officials say Thursday’s fire that damaged a home and injured one person was caused by an electrical short in the wiring from decorations at the base of an artificial tree.

Fire inspector and investigator Tim Regan with the Gulfport Fire Department says there are relatively few fires caused by Christmas tree lighting. However, when they happen, the results can be deadly.

“Although Christmas tree fires account for a very small majority of structure fires throughout the United States, the ones that are caused by Christmas trees have the highest amount of fatalities during the holidays,” Regan said. “The fire starts at night, the grow very, very quickly and they have the ability to trap people in their homes.”

Regan says most fires involving Christmas trees start from a heating source set too close.

He offered these other tips to keep yourself safe:

  • Check your holiday lights each year for frayed wires and test them before putting them up.
  • Make sure your extension cords are UL listed
  • Make sure real trees are properly watered
  • If possible, buy an artificial tree that is UL listed
  • In addition, install operable smoke detectors
  • And keep a full fire extinguisher close by

Additionally, Regan says some of the issues are simply with how lights are stored.

“We kind of cut corners sometimes, and we wad them up and then we pull them apart and we plug them in. And we wonder why there’s sparks shooting out of our outlets and the lights are flickering. We’ve really done damage to them each year we do that.”

Copyright 2015 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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