That Christmas tree that has been sitting in the corner since Thanksgiving: Is it getting a little bit brown?
Are the leaves starting to accumulate on the carpet?
Even if they aren’t, local fire officials are urging people to get rid of the holiday staple as soon as possible because regardless of how the tree may look, it becomes a massive fire hazard capable of burning hot enough to ignite things in the room without actually touching them.
According to Lathrop Manteca Fire District Battalion Chief Larry Madoski, the risk of a house fire from a Christmas tree increases extensively the longer after the holiday somebody keeps a tree inside of their home.
“When you buy a Christmas tree you have a tree that has been cut and is no longer living and we try to keep that tree looking green and healthy for a very defined period of time using water and other things that I’ve heard people talk about using,” Madoski said. “At some point people need to realize that it has been two or three or even five weeks of hoping that it’s absorbing the moisture it needs, but eventually it becomes a hazard that would give off so much heat and energy that it would quickly consume other things around it.
“It’s a good idea to be safe rather than sorry when it comes to something like that. So far this year we haven’t had a Christmas tree fire and we really don’t want to see one.”
While people may take steps to thwart disaster, Madoski said that the combination of electrical lights and a dry tree isn’t a winning one over an extended period of time. Even if the tree is away from other flammable objects, the amount of energy released when it does catch fire will burn hot enough to ignite other things nearby without actually touching them – a combination of radiant and convective heat that can catch anything from drapes and couches to flat-screen televisions on fire.
And it takes only seconds for the right combination to completely engulf that Christmas decoration and put the entire house and everything in it in jeopardy.
“You’ve got to look at the ignition temperatures and the energy releasing rate of a Christmas tree – it’s basically a tree that you’ve cut down and are trying to prolong its appearance,” he said. “Eventually it will dry out to the point where it’s not going to be able to suck up any more water at a rate that’s sustainable, and there you are with a tree in your house with lots of other combustibles nearby and it becomes something that you really truly have to think about.”
Manteca and Lathrop both have Christmas tree pickup available as part of their garbage collection services. In Lathrop people can place a separate bag of wrapping paper along with their typical refuse to be collected for the two weeks following Christmas. For more information about the dates and times that collection will take place contact the City of Lathrop’s Public Works Department at 209.941.7430, or the Manteca Solid Waste division at 209.456.8440.