How Christmas trees can turn deadly

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Families and holiday hopefuls are branching out this year to get a real tree instead of a plastic one at Mayo Garden Center in Knoxville.

An Oklahoma City firefighter, left, watches as the pine tree he ignited burns, during a demonstration for the media of how quickly a Christmas tree can catch fire, in Oklahoma City, Friday, Dec. 9, 2005. (AP Photo)

"I love the smell. It gets in the office and it just livens things up," said Gwendolyn, a shopper.

As folks sweep up a new tradition, Jeff Bagwell with Rural Metro said be sure to care for the real trees, because they catch fire.

"The reason is because we keep them too close to heating sources. {Then, drying out} it may be that its older, or the strand of lights may have a short, it might be a wire that's not quite where it should be -- maybe its come loose. Now, we have a hot wire that can create a spark," said Bagwell.

Simple reminders like avoiding trees that have needles falling off, keeping them away from heating sources and watering them at least twice a day can help families avoid a deadly disaster.

The National Fire Protection Association reports three people have died across the county between 2013 and 2017 due to Christmas tree fires. They also said firefighters respond to nearly 200 home fires that started with Christmas trees each year.

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