Texas Gulf Coast American Red Cross

Holiday fires and what to do to prevent them

By Susan Wessman

American Red Cross volunteer

It’s the time of year when Christmas is around the corner and Christmas trees are on display with blinking lights and sparkling decorations. Candles emit a soft warm glow and fireplaces crackle and pop. All is well, or is it?

On December 22, 1990, at approximately 11:10 p.m. in a living room that could be yours, a family of nine is caught unprepared when their Christmas tree catches fire. The father springs into action and attempts to drag the blazing tree out of the house. Unfortunately, he succumbs to fire and smoke inhalation and only two of the nine family members in the house make it out alive.

A fire department report of the incident noted the tree was very dry and while the lights on it were new, they were defective. The home only had one smoke alarm and the family did not have an escape plan. Tragically, some of the children tried to hide from the fire while others ran toward it.

Some common mistakes people make when faced with a home fire:

Holiday fire safety facts and tips:

Finally, always remember to GET OUT! Don’t waste time trying to put it out. A Christmas tree can go up in flames in less than 15 seconds. A well-watered tree vs a dry tree: http://bit.ly/2gmHVdb



Department of Homeland Security

United States Fire Administration

National Fire Data Center

National Fire Protection Association

A special thanks to Fire Fighter Jason January, Huntsville, TX, for the information he provided for this article.