Fire officials urge homeowners to celebrate holidays safely

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Cal Fire is reminding people throughout the holiday season that decorations increase the risk of fire inside your home.

The department is warning people of the risks, but, for some people, if the tree isn't real, it isn't a real Christmas.

"I like the real smell, I like having to come home with that Christmas-y smell," Fresno resident William Doval said. "Because I think if you don't have that pine smell in your house, you failed Christmas."

But before buyers take home a tree this holiday season, Cal Fire has some fire safety reminders including choosing an extra fresh tree with green needles.

Doval said that's something he's already keeping in mind as he searches for the perfect Douglas fir with his family. "Anything that has that crunchy, papery feel, and we all know paper is flammable," Doval said. "I think same thing applies to trees, I think that would be very wise."

"It only takes a little bit and with the drought and everything else, stuff lights up quick," Capt. Jeremiah Wittwer with Cal Fire warned. "You guys have seen during fire season, these trees inside a closed structure burns really quick."

Once residents are home, Cal Fire recommends cutting the trunk another two inches, putting it in water right away, and continuing to make sure it has enough water while the tree is up.

Wittwer says caring for the decorations you put on the tree is just as important. "Check any of the wires, for the lights," Wittwer emphasized. "Make sure there's no frays, none of the bulbs are cracked that will avoid one of the pine needles catching on fire."

And the department also warns to limit the amount of lights you use so as not to overwhelm your surge protector and to always make sure your smoke detector is working properly.

"If you don't plan for it, you're basically just planning to fail," Wittwer said. "And I think that's very key when you're having any kind of planning of any sort."

Because at the end of the day, William Doval is having a blast choosing the right tree, and hopes to have many more real Christmas' to come.
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