(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) It’s been over a week since Christmas, but if you still have a live Christmas tree up in your home, you might be running a higher risk for fire.
"Once Christmas is over and the tree has had its life in your living room it's best to get it out of the house and away from heat sources,"St. Joseph Fire Inspector Mindy Andrasevits said.
Dry winter air combined with heat from holiday lights and extension cords help set the stage for a Christmas tree to go up in flames.
"If they are really dry it's instantaneous, because it's all dry and it's just waiting for heat and flame to go up,"Andrasevits said.
In less than five minutes a Christmas tree can be completely engrossed in flames, but Andrasevits said trees aren’t the only festive decorations that can cause problems, older wreaths and poorly functioning lights can also catch fire.
"Lots of decorations can pose a problem, so it's best to put all those things away, pack them neatly away and wait for next year,"Andrasevits said.
Firefighters recommend sorting through your holiday decorations and throwing out damaged lights and ornaments before packing them away for next year.
"Keep everything in good working order. Once they are old and not so fresh, they need to be thrown away, it's all fuel for a fire,"Andrasevits said.
The city will offer free Christmas tree disposal at the Drake Softball Complex at 22nd Street and Southwest Parkway until Monday, January 21. The live trees recycled by the city will be taken to the landfill to be mulched. All trees should have the tinsel, lights and ornaments removed before being left at the softball complex for recycling.