Holiday fire safety

FRESNO, Calif.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, about 240 house fires involve Christmas trees and another 150 are started by holiday lights, every year. Together those fires cause 21 deaths and more than $25-million in damage.

That Christmas tree you plan on putting up may sparkle with holiday spirit, but this season it pays to remember just how fast a dried tree burns.

A video provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows just a small spark light up branches like a torch in just seconds. That fire is high enough to move across the ceiling and can then take over the couch and engulf the living room. In less than a minute, the only thing visible is thick black smoke.

"One of the biggest dangers for the holidays is bringing a live Christmas tree into your house," said Capt. Sean Johnson, Fresno Fire Department.

Captain Johnson shared a cell phone video he took of another house fire that started on Christmas day. The flames ignited after the owner placed the tree too close to his fireplace. "A little ember from the fireplace caught the Christmas tree and the gentleman tried to move a flaming Christmas tree and suffered second and third degree burns on his hands and face."

Firefighters are reminding people to make sure smoke detectors are up and running. And another reminder: be careful with portable generators.

So this holiday season, keep in mind the importance of staying safe.

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