Local fire officials warning about holiday decorations - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Local fire officials warning about holiday decorations

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - As Thanksgiving ends, minds turn to Christmas and for many, decorating begins. Businesses selling trees and lights are packed Friday. But you have a lot of costs and safety hazards to consider as you make your to-do list.

We've seen the tree lots setting up for weeks and Friday is their big day, as people crowd into their tents.

Fire prevention specialists have some tips to make sure you're picking the safest tree and how to handle all those lights without burning the house down.

Some people are opting to have them installed.

Hundreds of trees are being cut, bundled and loaded at Tom Sawyer's tree lot along Frazier Avenue Friday after a slow first week.

"It's picking up quite a bit. I think people are actually in the holiday spirit now," Tom Sawyer's Farm tree salesman, Mike Tavares says.

"Kids love them.Wwe love the smell of them so it just brings Christmas home," customer, Dale Bolton says.

"This is the earliest we've ever done it," customer, Kim Worley says.

Highway 58 Volunteer Fire Department Fire Prevention Lt. Nick Wilson says since Thanksgiving was earlier this year, picking the freshest tree is key to making it through December without a fire.

"Houses can burn to the ground, just from Christmas tree fires," Lt. Nick Wilson says.

He says bounce it on the ground, and if a lot of needles fall, keep shopping around.

"The trunk of the tree should be moist with sap," Lt. Wilson says.

Set it up away from any possible heat sources.

"We're away from the fire place, away from the heater, don't want to take any chances," Bolton says.

Of course, you can't leave the tree and house bare, but lights are another aspect that should be carefully planned.

Some people are even paying to have them professionally installed by local landscaping companies, that turn from mowing to decorating this time of year.

"To keep the guys going through the winter, our grass crews and things like that," Appalachian Land Design owner, Tyler Menne says.

They're keeping their crews employed by taking the task off you with your lights or their own. Either way, though, he says they carefully test all the wires, bulbs, extension cords and outlets for fire hazards, and then get busy.

"If they want lawn ornaments, wreaths, columns," Menne says.

Of course, it will cost you.

"Our minimum charge is $250 all the way up to the Griswald special for $49,999," Menne says.

Nobody has ordered the "Griswald Special" yet, although he's hoping. He says the "Home Alone Look" runs about $1,400. That's among the dozens of jobs Appalachian Land Design has scheduled over the next two weeks. They also take them down for you.

If you do the lights yourself, check for frays in the wires and busted bulbs.

Lt. Wilson he says he's seen one flaw spark and cause entire homes to go up in flames.

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