Fire chief warns of potential Christmas lights danger

Fire chief warns of potential Christmas lights danger
Old or damaged lights can lead to tree fires.

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas fire chief is putting out the word to be watchful of Christmas lights and the danger of fire, which he learned through his own recent experience.

With the family Christmas tree already up, Sabine Fire Chief Richard Sisk was up late Wednesday night, and noticed something curious about the lights.

"I look at the tree and about mid-ways up the tree there are multiple bulbs that are bright white. There was definitely something wrong," Sisk says.

He used his thermal imaging camera and found what he suspected.

"One read 267 degrees. You could feel the heat from them. They were hot. My concern was the entire strand was bright white. It wasn't just one bulb. Something wrong in the wiring causing the whole circuit to go bad," the chief said.

Not enough to start a fire, but it is a warning sign.

"Moving and breaking down that tree may have damaged some wiring," Richard says.

The problem with older stands of decorative lights is that depending on where they're stored the insulation can deteriorate on them.

Sisks' tree is artificial and has pre-strung lights. But he says its how it's stored that creates a problem.

"It's the re-use of Christmas lights. We put them on our homes, we put them on our trees, and cram them into a box," says Sisk.

Lights used for decades can be dangerous.

“That strand could create a spark, and a spark could be up around 1100 degrees. This is what burns houses down,” says Richard.

Sisk says decorative lights should never be stored in hot places like attics, and that consumers should replace strands of lights every few years.

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