Dry Christmas tree caused Bethlehem St. house fire

Published 10:22 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

This fire on Bethlehem Street was started by a dried-out Christmas tree.

A Christmas tree that had gone without water since Thanksgiving and subsequently dried out was the flashpoint for a fire that heavily damaged a home in the 1100 block of Bethlehem Street late Tuesday evening.

Officials with the Suffolk Fire Marshal’s office determined that the cause of the fire was accidental and that it had started in the area where a live Christmas tree had been put up right after Thanksgiving, according to Suffolk spokeswoman Diana Klink.

Klink said in a press release on Wednesday the tree had not been watered since it had been put in the house and that it had dried out in the ensuing weeks.

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Firefighters were called to the two-story home at about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday. Upon arriving, they found heavy fire on the first and second floors, Klink stated in the press release.

There was no word on what ignited the tree.

Nobody was at home at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries, she stated. Three engine companies, one ladder truck, a rescue unit and a medic unit responded to the scene.

The Red Cross is assisting the two adult occupants of the home, according to Klink.

About one-third of home fires and home fire deaths occur in December, January and February, according to a news release from State Farm. Many are caused by improper handling of holiday decorations.

In addition to giving your tree plenty of water, follow these other tips from State Farm during the holidays to stay safe:

  • Do not connect multiple extension cords together or overload outlets.
  • Inspect lights for frayed cords before putting them up.
  • Get a chimney inspection before lighting a fire.
  • Do not leave a burning candle unattended.
  • Give space heaters at least three feet of clear space all around, and keep them away from curtains, furniture, decorations and other flammable materials.
  • Do not burn trash, cardboard boxes or Christmas trees in the fireplace.