Fire chief warns of holiday decoration, fire hazards

The festive look of holiday decorations around a home can make it easy to forget the fire hazards they pose without proper care and use.

Warren County Fire and Rescue Services Chief Richard E. Mabie asked residents Monday to consider several steps they can take to prevent fires caused by Christmas tree and electrical lights.

Mabie said his department has not faced any devastating fires linked to holiday decorations in recent years, although there have been several incidents he described as “smell and meld” calls that left structures filled with smoky odors.

“We’ve had some fires caused by overheating electrical cords or sockets that could have resulted in major fires but, knock on wood, they were small, electrical failures,” Mabie said.

Mabie’s recommendations include:

  • Making sure that any artificial tree is labeled and identified by the manufacturer as fire-retardant.
  • Checking a fresh tree’s needles to see they don’t fall off when touched.
  • Cutting 2 inches from the base of the trunk on a fresh tree and making sure every day that the stand has water in it.
  • Keeping trees away from exits and at least 3 feet away from fireplaces, space heaters, candles and other heat sources.
  • Using lights bearing a label from a recognized testing laboratory and checking whether the lights are designated for inside or outside use.
  • Replacing strings of lights attached to worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections.
  • Never use lighted candles as tree decorations.
  • Turn off Christmas lights when leaving home or going to bed.
  • Getting rid of trees after Christmas and before they dry out and become fire hazards.