CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The National Institute of Standards and Technology just released a shocking side-by-side video demonstrating how easily a dry tree can catch fire.
Local fire officials said they respond to Christmas tree fire calls every year.
“We've seen it in person how fast a fire can destroy a Christmas tree and how quickly it can extend into the house,” Charlotte Fire Battalion Chief Matt Westover said. “The most important thing is to water the tree regularly. Make sure the cords aren’t frayed at all, that there are no exposed wires. Don't use extension cords, and use surge protectors. Unplug your lights when you leave the house, when you're sleeping turn them off.”
If you haven’t picked up your tree yet, don’t be afraid to ask the lot workers how fresh the trees are.
“When you get trees from Christmas lots you don't know how long it's gone without water,” Westover said.
Last year there were several hundred recorded Christmas tree fires, totaling $14.8 million of property damage.
Statistically, tree fires will kill about 10 people between now and the new year.
“If it's something that happens overnight while you're sleeping you could be exposed to the side effects of the smoke, carbon monoxide, and fire itself,” Westover said.
In 80-percent of last year’s deadly Christmas tree fires, the tree was too close to a heat source, like a candle, fireplace, or space heater.