CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The North Carolina Department of Insurance hosted a live tree fire demonstration to show how easily a dry Christmas tree can go up in flames.

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.

Between 2011-2015, Christmas tree fires caused an annual average of six civilian deaths, 16 civilian injuries, and $14.8 million in property damage.

“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.

Of all recorded Christmas tree fires, 43 percent were caused by electrical issues or lighting equipment, and 27 percent were caused by the tree being too close to a heat source.

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