Some people like to keep their Christmas tree up after the holidays to continue the festive spirit, but they pose a danger the longer they stay up.
Battalion Chief Ray Hais of the San Luis Obispo City Fire Department explained, “It's kind of like a blowtorch. You know, I hate to use that analogy, but with the dry leaves and the dry branches on the Christmas tree, it has such a high fire hazard and low moisture content in it, that once it ignites, there literally is no stopping it and it's going to spread throughout the home.”
According to fire officials, on average, there are about 150 house fires related to Christmas trees every year throughout the United States.
“No matter how much water or how much you care for it, it is going to continue to dry out and the more it dries out, the greater the fire hazard,” Hais said.
Nearly 40 percent of Christmas tree fires happen in January, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
“The biggest thing for that we see as far as tree fires, is candles, matches, cigarettes, things like that. A little bit too close to the fire. And once it gets into the tree, there's honestly, there's absolutely no stopping it,” Hais warned.
He says if a Christmas tree does catch on fire, evacuate immediately and call 911.
“The sooner we are dispatched, the sooner we can get there and the sooner we can salvage a majority of your house. Do not try to fight, especially a Christmas tree fire on your own because it is going to be a losing battle,” Hais said.
People can dispose of their trees by cutting them up and putting them in their green waste containers.
Jeff Clarin, District Manager for the San Luis Obispo branch of Waste Connections, said, “We actually have as a curbside pick up, we actually cut your trees up that fit in your green waste container - no more than six inches in diameter and just cut it in about four foot sections. You put it in your regular green waste container and then we can actually service it on your service day.”
People can use a chainsaw to cut up the tree, but make sure there are no lights, stands or ornaments still attached.
At Waste Connections, they will put the Christmas trees through a digester where it becomes soil compost. From there, it is sold to farmers.
San Luis Obispo City Fire would also like to remind people to be extra careful when they are taking down Christmas lights.
They already had some incidents where people have fallen off ladders and ended up in the emergency room.