Fire officials promote Christmas tree safety

November 29, 2010 (CHICAGO)

"First and foremost, keeping your tree moist is the most important. It keeps the needles from drying out, becoming more combustible. We tell people not to use any candles with a live tree or near a lighted tree because it can start on fire," said Joe Roccasalea, Chicago Fire Department.

In December of 2008 a house fire in Humboldt Park killed a 24-year-old man who was asleep when the fire broke out. Firefighters believe the fire was caused by faulty wiring of lights on a Christmas tree.

Firefighters lit a small Christmas trees on fire during a demonstration Monday to show how a quickly a small flame can turn into an inferno. Less than ten seconds after the first flames were apparent, the smoke detector went off, giving anybody inside the house ample time to get out. But just 40 seconds later, the entire room was engulfed in smoke and flames, turning the room into a death trap.

According to the Chicago Fire Department, one of the biggest cause of house fires this time of year are space heaters.

"You have to keep the minimum of three feet away anything that's flammable from a space heater. And also, they use extension cords on those and they shouldn't because an extension cord can get hot," said Bob Hoff, fire commissioner.

While preventing a fire is always important, the best way to protect yourself is by having smoke detectors on every level of your home and to change the batteries annually.

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