Gulfport Fire Department warns about holiday hazards - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Gulfport Fire Department warns about holiday hazards

Officials say holiday decorations can become fatal fire hazards. (Photo source: WLOX News) Officials say holiday decorations can become fatal fire hazards. (Photo source: WLOX News)
It took less the two minutes for the tree used in the demonstration to ignite in flames. (Photo source: WLOX News) It took less the two minutes for the tree used in the demonstration to ignite in flames. (Photo source: WLOX News)
GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

A dried out Christmas tree, extension cords overloaded with holiday lights and a heat source too close to the tree. All are potential fire hazards during the holiday season. 

On Thursday, the Gulfport Fire Department held a dramatic demonstration to highlight potential dangers.

“Every year in the United States, there's about a thousand fires started by Christmas lights, decorations and Christmas trees, and those fires are four times likely to have a fatality involved,” said Chief Michael Beyerstedt.

A living room display, complete with Christmas tree, was set-up inside a cargo box at the fire department's training center, and with firefighters standing by, a flame was sparked beneath it.

It took less than two minutes for the initial spark beneath the tree to become a blazing inferno. 

“You've got to keep that tree watered if you're going to have a real tree. You just saw here, how that fire went from basically nothing to totally consuming a room in less than two minutes. That's a big fuel source right there,” said Chief Beyerstedt.

Along with dry Christmas trees, another fire hazard is too many lights and extension cords.

“People tend to overload their electrical system with too many extension cords to get those decorations going,” said Beyerstedt. “We had a fire last week started by Christmas decorations in the home. You know, it's a tragic thing. You saw how quickly it can happen here,” said Chief Beyerstedt.

A message from GFD: Don't let your happy holidays go up in smoke this year.

“Have people to be mindful about the things they can do to make sure this is a safe Christmas for them,” Beyerstedt noted. 

The fire chief offered the following tips to stay save during the season:

  • Make sure you keep your live Christmas tree watered
  • Keep any heat sources away from the tree
  • Don't overload your electrical system with too many extension cords and plugs

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