Fire Wire: Common Christmas decorations can cause dangerous house fires

Published: Dec. 11, 2020 at 5:02 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Christmas decorations are just what is needed to get everyone in the spirt of the holidays — but, if people aren’t careful, they can create significant fire danger.

“Natural Christmas trees that are cut down, not the fake ones, they tend to dry out — and when they dry out they become very flammable, so make sure that you keep your Christmas tree watered,” said Christopher Edsell, a captain at the North Star Volunteer Fire Department.

He said that whether a tree is real or fake, it should be kept at least three feet away from any heat source. The same is true of all other decorations — even the Christmas stocking that was hung by the chimney with care.

“I know it may look nice to hang them right over top of them or next to [heat sources], but we want to make sure we are not hanging our stockings to close to those. We want to try to keep at least 36 inches of space around a wood stove or pellet stove,” Edsell said.

Another common holiday decoration is candles. Like all heat and flame, the captain said this can be dangerous, and to make sure cancled are kept away from anything flammable. Edsell also warned about the dangers of Christmas lights. Plugging to many cords into an outlet can overload the system, cause an electric short, and maybe cause a fire.

He also warned of old lights, saying “Also inspect your lights before you put them around your trees or up on your house to make sure that the wires are still covered in the insulation, and that they aren’t frayed and could have exposed electrical wires that could arc and create fires.”

Lastly, Edsell said that maintaining stovepipes is important, “We touched on some wood stoves, pellet stoves and fireplaces. So make sure you clean your chimneys. If you don’t clean your chimneys Santa can’t come down your chimney, and also you might end up with a chimney fire.”

Simple tips that can keep a house safe and filled with holiday cheer.

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