How fast will a dried-out Christmas tree burn?

The Whitfield County Fire Department found out on December 15, during an experiment with a tree that had not been watered since November 23. The firefighters put the tree in a make-shift room filled with furniture, started a fire, and the entire structure was fully engulfed within one minute.

Lt. Chris West, fire prevention coordinator, cautioned local residents who have live trees to be sure to keep them watered, and don’t leave the lights plugged in while you’re away from the house or you’re asleep.

“As we found out, it just takes a minute to have a disaster,” West said, pointing out that nationwide each year from 2010 to 2014, more than 200 structure fires began with a Christmas tree, causing six civilian deaths and 16 civilian injuries annually.

When choosing a live Christmas tree, West said to make sure the needles are green and don’t fall off when touched. Place the tree at least three feet away from heat sources like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents, and lights. Before placing the tree in the stand, cut off two inches from the base of the trunk. Then add water immediately to the stand, then continue to water daily.