Carson City fire officials stress maintaining Christmas trees

State Fire Marshall Bart Chambers explains the sequence of events Friday morning at Station 52.

State Fire Marshall Bart Chambers explains the sequence of events Friday morning at Station 52.

Christmas joy can turn into Christmas terror within seconds, but the local fire departments are here to help make sure that doesn’t happen.

The Carson City Fire Department and Reno Fire Department provided a demonstration Friday to show how important it is to make sure your Christmas tree is well maintained to avoid holiday fires.

“If you take precautions, trees are festive and safe but it will burn fast and creates a dangerous situation for the citizens in the house,” said Carson City Fire Chief Sean Slamon.

The departments showed that a tree that is not maintained can become engulfed in flames within about 45 seconds, whereas a properly maintained tree barely burns after a minute. Slamon said the well maintained tree had a slower burn and gave off white smoke, meaning there was a lot of moisture in the burn.

Carson City doesn’t see a significant number of tree fires. Nationally, however, December and January are the busiest times for structure fires, due to tree burns, cooking, fireplaces and other factors.

Slamon said they recommend not putting your tree near a heat source or open flame, making sure the lights on it are also well maintained and don’t get too hot, cutting the stump down and providing it fresh water every day. He said it’s best for residents to also buy their trees into December so they are fresher.

“Treat it like it’s a cat or a dog, you need to be giving it fresh water every day to stay moist and prevent those fires best as possible,” Slamon said.

In the event a tree catches fire, taking those steps to ensure a slower burn means families have more time to escape the residence.

“It will make for a happier and better Christmas season,” Slamon said.

In addition to maintaining the tree, Slamon said it’s important for families to have a meeting place in event of a fire.

“I think people often forget what to do when that smoke detector goes off,” Slamon said. “We lose more people because they go back into a fire looking for a loved one when they often aren’t in the burn. And we have the proper equipment so it is safer for us to go in and that entry to look for someone.”

In all, it’s best to remember to use caution when using natural trees, and taking care of them daily will help reduce potential dangers.

“We want everyone to have a happy, festive season and keep safe,” Slamon said.


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