Why Your Christmas Tree May Come With a Warning Label

Buyer beware: If you're planning on buying a live Christmas tree this year, you may be in danger. Trees grown in drought-stricken conditions have led fire officials to warn customers after seeing extremely dry trees suddenly burst into flames. 

"The trees, the leaves, the vegetative plants and so forth... aren't as fresh, as vibrant, as they could be because of drought conditions," Dekalb, Georgia fire department Capt. Eric Jackson told Fox 5 Atlanta. 

Regardless of your local climate, your tree may have been grown in a drought-stricken area in another state—a reality many buyers don't think about, but should. Five southeastern states and California are currently experiencing exceptional drought. 

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"Make sure that it's at least three feet away from any sort of heating source, any space heater, any floor heater...  any wall heater, anything that emits heat," Jackson advised. 

Fire officials have also steered buyers away from certain tree lights.

"You don't want to use the older traditional bulb-type lighting because those tend to generate a lot more heat, versus the newer LED lighting," Jackson explained.

He also recommended customers "utilize a surge protector so that you don't overload that socket, because if you overload the socket, that could cause just enough spark on an already dry tree."

Atlanta-based Pike Nurseries sells Christmas trees grown in the mountains of North Carolina, Washington and California. 

"We're taking extra precautions and making sure we get nice fresh cuts on our trees. We keep them stood in water," Pike Nurseries manager Kara Ziegler explained.

During the holiday season, the nursery monitors thousands of trees.

"You want it to be really green and vibrant," Ziegler tells customers. "And then when you touch the tree, you want to make sure that needles are not falling off and that it's really pliable and not dry and brittle."

The National Fire Protection Association burned a live Christmas tree last December to demonstrate how quickly and easily dried-out trees can burn. 


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