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Christmas trees might be more dangerous than you think

Huntsville's fire marshal shares some tips, and Huntsville’s Green Team is partnering with the Solid Waste Disposal Authority to help you recycle post-holiday items.
Credit: NIST
Christmas tree fires are rare, but when they do occur, they can be very dangerous

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — "Christmas trees too close to a heat source can ignite the tree, also, if you've got old lights on the tree that have an electrical short, those have been known to ignite the Christmas trees as well. You also want to make sure you water your tree even after Christmas because when you don't water your tree it becomes highly flammable," said Dan Wilkerson, Fire Marshal for the City of Huntsville. 

Christmas may be over, but many people still have their trees up. Those trees could become a fire hazard. Wilkerson shares some tips on how to keep yourself, family and home safe.

"If you're using a space heater, don't have it near the Christmas tree. Don't set your tree up near the fire place, also, when you clean out the fire place make sure that the ashes are disposed properly, and that they're not near the Christmas tree. Also, any lights that you use, make sure they're in good repair, right now people are taking their decorations down, it's a good time to inspect your Christmas lights. If there is any damage to the wire, you want to go ahead and dispose of those lights and replace them," said Wilkerson. 

The City of Huntsville is providing a service to make disposing of your tree a lot easier and a whole lot safer.

RELATED: Toss your live Christmas trees! It could now be a fire hazard

Operation Christmas Clean-up will take place at Joe Davis Stadium on Saturday, January 9. This event provides people a way to safely dispose of live Christmas trees without decorations, cardboard boxes that have been broken down and various electronics.

Selected recyclables from the list below can be dropped off from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.


  • Live Christmas trees, cardboard, batteries & electronics (TV’s, game consoles, etc.)
  • Remove lights & ornaments from live trees
  • Break down and FLATTEN your cardboard boxes prior to arrival


  • No wrapping paper, no packaging materials such as Styrofoam, plastic wrap, zip ties, metal straps, etc.

Christmas tree fires are very avoidable, and also quite rare, but...

"When they do happen, especially when you haven't watered your tree, they cause a lot of damage to your house, and your risk of injury or fatality go way up with a dry Christmas tree," said Wilkerson. 

RELATED: What you should do to prevent Christmas decorations from becoming a fire hazard