Holiday Season is Peak Time for House Fires

by Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - 'Tis the season to deck the halls, but it's also the season for more home fires.

"People bring out the decorations and one of those decorations is candles," Jim Meiner, Interim Fire Chief for the Midland Fire Department, said.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, December is the peak time of year for home fires started by candles. Chief Meiner says those fires can start simply by not being careful.

"Never leave them unattended, especially if you have cats in the home because it happens a lot that cats will knock over candles," Chief Meiner said.

And that's not the only danger lurking inside your home. Colder weather brings more ways of trying to stay warm, and for some, that can mean just turning on the stove.

Chief Meiner warns it can also be fatal.

"They are not designed to heat a home," he said. "It's very dangerous especially if it's a gas stove or a gas oven. You're actually pumping carbon monoxide into your home which is a deadly gas."

In past years, the National Fire Protection Association reported electrical problems were the cause for nearly half of all Christmas tree fires.

"They are very dangerous especially a live tree because the burn very quickly," Meiner said. "They'll fully engulf themselves in less than a minute."

John Blamey has been in the Christmas tree business for many years.

"You can buy an artificial tree, but it's just not the same. You don't have the fragrance, you don't have the aroma as you do of a live fresh tree."

And he says there's a few ways to have that Christmas tree scent while keeping your home safe at the same time.   

"If you keep watering your stand on your tree, you shouldn't have a problem," Blamey said. "It's when people overload the tree with lights and then let it dry out is when it becomes a fire hazard."

Blamey says the trees take years to grow but just seconds to go up in flames, but it can be easily prevented.

"There's a material called flocking that you can buy in a kit and you can flock it," Blamey said. "It's actually a flame retardant. You can hold a match underneath it and it will not catch on fire."

Chief Meiner recommends checking smoke alarms to ensure they're properly working and also use flameless luminaries as a safe alternative to candles.