I’d never seen anything like it in my entire life. Last night, after leaving a show in the east village, my friend and I were driving down the block when we noticed a Christmas tree on fire on the sidewalk. By the time our eyes really registered what was going on and we started to call 911, the tree was fully engulfed in flames which were lapping up the back side of a minivan. Less than 30 seconds later, we decided to move on because we thought for sure the minivan would explode.
Want to see what I mean? Check out how insanely fast even a spark can turn a dry Christmas tree into an enormous fire, and then follow the safety tips below to prevent a tragedy in your neck of the woods:
I don’t know exactly why that tree caught fire last night, but I assume someone walking by threw a lit cigarette at it or something. I feel terrible for the owner of the melted minivan, because it was totaled. (The FDNY arrived before anything really bad happened.) But imagine what could happen if your Christmas tree caught on fire at home while your family slept? Fire safety is no joke: we’ve written about the horrible, fatal fire that took Madonna Badger’s family from her. So be sure to take the following precautions in dealing with and disposing of your Christmas tree in the coming days:
Dry trees are the most hazardous. “Until such time the tree is removed, it is especially important to remember to keep the stand filled with water at all times,” according to the City of Shelton Fire Prevention Bureau in Connecticut. The Valley Independent Sentinel interviewed Ted Pisciotta, the Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention, who says a “fire involving the entire tree would quickly result in rapid fire spread throughout the home. Not only will damage be extensive, but serious injury or loss of life is possible.”
Pisciotta notes, “Dried trees should not be kept in the home, garage, or placed outside against the home” and says that the “continued use of seasonal lighting (on) dried-out Christmas trees can pose significant fire hazards in and outside the home.”
New York City is sponsoring a Christmas tree recycling program that will chip trees “into mulch that will be distributed to parks, playing fields, and community gardens throughout the city.” As a result, residents were urged to place their Christmas trees curbside starting yesterday, so the person who placed their tree on that east village street last night was not negligent. But a tree left exposed to an unthinking public is a danger, and we should all keep an eye out for each other’s safety! (Also, don’t flick a cigarette at a Christmas tree, you sociopath!)