#happylife: WATCH what happens when your Christmas tree catches fire
SPOKANE VALLEY, Wash. — Christmas is less than a week away and by now your tree is probably up and decorated to enjoy… but are you taking care of it?
The National Fire Protection Association says between 2013 and 2017, 160 house fires began with Christmas trees. They are rare but when they happen, the results can be devastating. 4 News Now got to witness that firsthand.
Spokane Valley Fire invited our reporter to watch what happens when a fake, flame-resistant tree and real trees are placed too close to heat sources.
The first was a real pine that had not been watered in a week. It was completely dried out, making it burn incredibly fast. In less than 2 minutes, the tree was incinerated.
“The heat release rate on a tree that isn’t watered is through the roof – literally in some cases, it will go through the roof,” explained Rick Freier, a firefighter with Spokane Valley Fire.
Future firefighters from the fire science class at Spokane Valley Tech were there to witness the demonstrations and were shocked by what they saw.
Student Daisy Schoonover explained, “this definitely gets me more excited, kind of prepares us for the future and what we can do to prevent things like this from happening.”
She was anxious for the next demo; a real tree that has been watered, which is what she has at home. Her family has been vigilant about keeping it hydrated.
A little water goes a huge way, it turns out. Freier called it a completely different fire when compared to the dryer version. Three and a half minutes after flames began to appear, green branches were still visible.
In terms of temperature, which students tracked, the dry tree reached 1000 degrees in 40 seconds. The watered tree was only at 475 degrees a minute and a half into burning.
Watching the real tree burn had many wondering if a flame-resistant, artificial tree is the way to go. Spokane Valley firefighters put that to the test as well.
Freier explained, “the thing about it is they are a little harder to get going, but the reality is once you get enough heat in the room, they are going to burn like everything else.”
Artificial trees can sometimes be more dangerous if they catch fire, since they generate more smoke as they burn. Smoke inhalation is the primary cause of death in house fires.
After the demonstrations, Freier asked each teen if they have working smoke detectors in their homes. When each tree burned, the smoke alarm sounded early on, even a few feet away.
He also advises you turn the lights off when you aren’t home or go to bed and leave room between the tree and presents, heat sources and walls.
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