NFPA: One-third of Christmas tree home fires occur in January

(ABC 6 News) – The National Fire Protection Association says (NFPA) says one-third (33%) of U.S. home fires involving Christmas trees occur in January.

The NFPA says natural trees, which continue to dry out and become more flammable over time, are involved in a much larger share of reported Christmas tree home fires than artificial trees.

According to NFPA data, 160 home structure fires began with Christmas trees, resulting in two civilian deaths, 11 civilian injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage, on average each year between 2016 and 2020.

“As much as we all enjoy the look and feel of Christmas trees in our homes, they’re large combustible items that have the potential to result in serious fires,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at. “The longer Christmas trees remain in homes, the longer they present a risk.”

The NFPA says trees should not be put in garages or left outside, and to safely remove lighting and decorations before disposing them.

The NFPA urges everyone to dispose natural Christmas trees promptly by using local community’s recycling programs.

In Olmsted County, through March, Christmas trees can be dropped off at the county compost site any day of the week during daylight hours. There is no disposal fee, but residents are asked to remove the stand, ornaments, and lights.

Albert Lea residents may drop off trees at two locations – Frank Hall Park or the Transfer Station – until Jan. 8

RELATED: City of Albert Lea offers ‘real’ Christmas tree disposal at no cost

In Austin, residents may drop-off natural trees at Hilliers Compost Facility, 1613 31st St. SW. A disposal fee will be charged. For artificial trees, residents may put them in their curbside garbage or drop-off at the Austin Transfer Station.