Video shows how quickly a Christmas tree can burn - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Video shows how quickly a Christmas tree can burn

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WAUSAU (WAOW) -

Christmas is quickly approaching and that means it's time to put up the festive decorations. A brightly lit tree is beautiful but can be a safety concern. There have unfortunately been a number of tree fire accidents in Central Wisconsin, one ending in a fatality. 

A video shows a dry Christmas tree engulfed in flames that spread in seconds... started with just a few sparks.

"Pine trees have pitch, or sap, that's very flammable and ignites the tree at a rapid rate," said Lieutenant Hyden Prausa of the Wausau Fire Department. "It's important to pick a tree that's been cut fresh where the needles haven't been falling off."

Prausa said a Christmas tree is more flammable than a piece of paper when it dries out, so it's necessary to take precaution. 

"Keep it watered every day... keep your tree away from an exit... from any heat sources at least 3 ft away from a fireplace, a candle, anything that could set it on fire," said Prausa.

Christmas lights can be dangerous, too. 

"Inspect the strands of lights before you actually put them on your tree to make sure they're not cracked or worn," Prausa said. "Christmas lights are fairly inexpensive, if you have any doubt, dispose of them directly into the garbage. Don't try to fix them, and start over with some brand new UL tested lights." 

A lot of trees are also painted to look greener. Sometimes, they're painted an entirely different color like blue or purple. 

"That makes it obviously a lot more flammable to be applying some sort of paint to hide any blemishes on a tree," Prausa said. 

Fake trees aren't as much of a fire hazard but still something to watch out for, and the safety tips don't end when the holidays do. 

"Dispose of your tree once Christmas is over because it becomes more flammable as it dries out," Said Prausa. "Don't put it in your garage or lean it up against your house but actually remove it, put it on the curb or dispose of it, whatever your municipality recommends." 

There is no reason to risk making your time for holiday cheer into an emergency so celebrate responsibly. 

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