It takes Santa all of Christmas night to deliver presents, but it only takes seconds for the holiday to potentially go up in flames.

A Christmas tree was ignited, sending flames nearly 10 feet into the air, and burned to its stem in less than two minutes in front of St. Francis Memorial Hospital on Eddy Street this morning in San Francisco.

Fire officials set up the demonstration to show the danger of having trees inside homes.

"Typically when the trees are placed, they're in the living room, the family room where there is a lot of combustible materials," San Francisco fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White said. "As you can see, that was a 6-foot tree but when it got going the flames were up to about 9 feet. There is definitely the possibility of it extending and growing."

There are between 30 and 50 tree fires in San Francisco during the holiday season annually and between five to 10 of those are inside the home, which can turn into a structure fire and potentially cause major damage.

Hayes-White recommends having the tree for no more than three weeks and getting the tree as close to Christmas as possible. She also said to give it space and not place it next to heating sources or other combustibles.

San Francisco District Supervisor David Chiu and Assemblyman Phillip Ting were also at the event and Chiu emphasized the importance of the demonstration.

"One of the things that has been a pretty intense experience for me over the past four years as the district supervisor here is just the sheer number of fires we have," Chiu said. "But most importantly the fires we have during the holidays."


Advertisement

"We all know at any moment bad things can happen," Chiu said. "I think it's really important we do this demonstration to again let the public know, educate the public what can happen, what shouldn't happen and ensure we enjoy the holiday season the way it should be."

Watering the trees every day while inside a home is recommended. The San Francisco Fire Department also recommends not using flammable decorations.

Engine 41 assisted in the lighting and extinguishing of the tree.



Copyright © 2012 by Bay City News, Inc. republication, re-transmission or reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.