Dried out Christmas trees 'an accident waiting to happen,' Toronto fire says

Dried out Christmas trees 'an accident waiting to happen,' Toronto fire says
CBC News
Link to article: Dried out Christmas trees 'an accident waiting to happen,' Toronto fire says

Nobody was hurt in a Mississauga Christmas tree fire inside a home this week, but the house sustained significant damage.

After two Christmas tree-related fires in fewer than 24 hours in the GTA, Toronto fire is warning residents "to be very diligent with live trees."

"A tree will burn extremely quickly and generates an immense amount of heat," said Stephan Powell, a district chief with the city's fire department. "Once it becomes dried out, it's just an accident waiting to happen."

Firefighters responded to a call on Claredon Avenue, near Avenue Road and St. Clair Avenue W., in the early morning hours Friday to discover a fire in a fourth-floor unit of a condo complex. While an investigation into the origin of fire is ongoing, there's reason to suspect that it may have started due to frayed electrical wires around a Christmas tree, Powell told CBC Toronto.

A second fire occurred within a home on Sequin Crescent in Mississauga on Thursday afternoon. No one was injured in the blaze, but the house sustained significant damage.

Powell stressed that those with Christmas trees in their homes should keep them watered and check water levels in the reservoir daily. Sometimes pets can unknowingly lap water from the base of trees, drying them out more quickly than one might suspect. Similarly, never leave a tree unattended while the lights are plugged in.

"Also keep them away from radiators and forced air vents, which will also dry them out," he said. "Location of trees is important. It might look really nice set up in front of your window, but that might be where your heat register is and it will continually dry your tree out."

A video posted to Facebook by Toronto fire in 2015 demonstrates just how quickly a Christmas tree fire can spread. The video is only about two-and-a-half minutes long, but the burning tree engulfs an entire room in flames in under two minutes.

Fire departments across Ontario recommend disposing of your Christmas tree within four weeks of purchase or as soon as it dries out. If you need to wait to dispose of it, make sure it is stored away from your home or garage. 

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