Christmas trees – even artificial ones – burn so quickly that it’s hard to contain the damage

  • During a side-by-side demonstration at the New Hampshire Fire Academy on Wednesday, Cory Thomas (left) and Kayleah Eastman extinguish the Christmas tree section that did not have sprinklers, which went up in flames in under four minutes. The setup with sprinklers on the left was put out in under a minute. GEOFF FORESTER photos / Monitor staff

  • A side-by-side demonstration of the fire risk posed by a Christmas tree shows how effective sprinklers can be at limiting damage.

Published: 11/18/2020 6:16:45 PM

A home’s biggest symbol of the holiday season, the Christmas tree, can also be a home’s biggest fire risk, and the folks who fight those fires want people to be aware.

The New Hampshire State Fire Marshal’s Office hosted a Christmas tree burn at the Fire and EMS Academy in Concord on Wednesday, showing how quickly a tree can burst into flames and how home sprinkler systems can help.

The demonstration, held in a special trailer, used artificial trees to make the point that avoiding a natural tree doesn’t avoid fire risk.

The trailer had one “room” with a typical home sprinkler system, which put out the tree fire in less than a minute. The other tree burned so quickly that it engulfed the entire room before the blaze could be contained by firefighters.

The electrical Safety Foundation says that an average of 260 houses burn in the United States each year because Christmas trees catch on fire, often as the result of an electrical problem, “resulting in 12 deaths, 24 injuries and $16.4 million in property damage.”


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