Lawrence Fire Marshal Rich Barr knows this: Christmas trees and candles are a poor holiday recipe.
Firefighters with Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical sought to prove a point Thursday by setting a live Christmas tree on fire at the city's firefighting training facility at 19th Street and Haskell Avenue.
With the help of a candle and a cardboard box, firefighters showed that even a fresh Christmas tree can catch on fire. Barr said the idea of keeping candles away from evergreens wasn't a hard one to understand, but he said that people often made dangerous mistakes by either forgetting to water their trees daily or to extinguish candles before they left the room.
"If they are using a live tree, they really have to remember it has to be cared for," Barr said.
That means keeping the tree away from heat registers, fireplaces and radiators that would cause the tree to dry out more quickly. Barr also said it was important to make a fresh cut on the trunk of the tree before placing it into the tree stand.
Other tips that Barr offers:
¢ Use newer Christmas lights that have a fuse in the plug.
¢ Check each set of lights for frayed or bare wires, loose connections or cracked sockets.
¢ Use no more than three standard-sized sets of lights per extension cord.
¢ Don't use nails or tacks to secure outdoor lights because they could damage the wires and create a spark. Insulated hooks or insulated staples are safer.