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Christmas tree fires

Christmas tree fires

Trees used indoors for the holidays account for approximately 400 fires annually, resulting in 10 deaths, 80 injuries and more than $15 million in property damage. One video demonstrates the how quickly the fire can develop when a DRY tree is exposed to an open flame. Wet trees tell a different story. For comparative purposes, the NIST researchers selected a green Scotch pine, had it cut in their presence, had an additional two inches cut from the trunk's bottom, and placed the tree in a stand with at least a 7.6 liter water capacity. The researchers maintained the Scotch pine's water on a daily basis. A single match could not ignite the tree. A second attempt in which an electric current ignited an entire matchbook failed to fire the tree. Finally they applied an open flame to the tree using a propane torch. The branches ignited briefly, but self-extinguished when the researchers removed the torch from the branches. Trees that have been watered properly, and maintain pliable, green needles are harder to ignite than dry trees with needles that break easily when bent and fall from the tree when the branches are shaken. The second video shows the ignition propensity of a fresh moist tree compared to that of a dry tree.

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