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Christmas trees cause house fires yearly in Manteca
It usually starts with a small spark that makes a small crackling noise.

You may not hear it as you and your family might be snuggled in bed fast asleep.

It’ll  smolder for a bit but in less than two minutes your Christmas tree – laden with combustible pine needles – turns into a burning bush with flames running up walls and spreading across the ceiling.

The odds are a house fire triggered by a Christmas tree will happen again this holiday season in Manteca.

“It seems that we can’t go through Christmas without at least one Christmas tree house fire,” noted Manteca Fire Chief Kirk Waters said.

The worst incident in the past 10 years occurred mid-decade when a dried out Christmas tree completely destroyed a house in northwest Manteca causing in excess of $650,000 in losses to the structure and contents of a two-story home in the Chadwick Square neighborhood.

Candles are also a big problem this time of year. Manteca has even had a Christmas tree that caused a house fire because a candle was left burning too close to it. The other leading cause of holiday fires are chimney fires or infernos created by disposing of ashes improperly in a container that is combustible and leaving it next to the house.

Waters noted that trees should always have the trunk cut at an angle and placed in a tree holder that has water at the base. The angled cut allows the tree to draw from the water. Some suggest tossing a few ice cubes in with the water when you fill it periodically so that it will remain moist longer at the tree’s base.

While most people are aware of the dangers of putting a tree too close to a fireplace or putting candles near it, many don’t stop and think how its placement near heating vents can accelerate a tree’s moisture loss.