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December and January are typically the busiest of the year when it comes to local fire departments responding to house fires, with an estimated 250 Christmas trees and 170 faulty holiday light strings setting American homes ablaze annually.

To demonstrate the risk, San Diego Fire-Rescue personnel yesterday took only two minutes to set fire to a tree in a controlled burn. The tree torching was part of an event hosted in conjunction with the Burn Institute in hopes of alerting residents to, and taking action to prevent, the dangers posed around the holidays.

While live trees aren’t inherently more dangerous than artificial ones, safety personnel advise making sure the tree was freshly cut by bouncing the trunk a few times. If more than a few needles fall off, the tree was probably harvested too early and has begun to dry out, increasing the fire risk. Once at home, the tree needs constant access to water at its base and should be kept away from all heat sources, including space heaters and vents.

“Holidays are a great time of the year, but really, we ask people to just use a little bit of common sense,” said James Floros of the Burn Institute, also reminding residents to check to ensure their smoke alarms are working and to form a family escape plan in case of a fire.

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Visduh Dec. 6, 2011 @ 7:45 p.m.

Worse yet, here in So Cal, we have many fires caused by candles every winter, and especially around Christmas. Many seem to be in apartments occupied by the poorer strata and end up killing or injuring the occupants, or rendering them and neighbors homeless. Not worth it! A candle is going to keep you warm? Don't think so. Cool it on candles. If they were such a great source of comfort, light and heat, we all would use them all the time. Candles are a most primitive way to get light, and belong where they are--relegated to caves, cabins, and poultry houses.


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