4 Investigates: Preventing Christmas tree fires | KOB 4

4 Investigates: Preventing Christmas tree fires

Chris Ramirez
December 17, 2018 10:19 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – We all know that dry trees burn faster than hydrated trees but by how much?


To test that question, 4 Investigates went to a big box retailer and purchased two similar sized Douglas Fir Christmas Trees.  We propped them in an office for three weeks, watering one tree daily, but allowing the other to dry up.  In a short time, the limbs of the dry tree started giving in to the weight and the pine needles became brittle.  

We hauled both trees to the Albuquerque Fire Academy where AFR cadets and firefighters lit each tree on fire.  Within 2 seconds, the dry tree lit the ceiling of the room on fire and within 10 seconds, the tree was fully engulfed in flames.  The tree burned for two full minutes before the tree had no more fuel to burn.

The hydrated tree caught the ceiling on fire in 4 seconds and was also fully engulfed with 10 seconds.  It burned for about a minute and a half before putting itself out.

“One in every four fires around this time of the year are caused from the misuse of decorations on Christmas trees or candles,” said AFR Lt. Tom Ruiz.  “It’s unfortunate that it happens this time of the year.” 

The dry tree also burned hotter than the watered tree.  Lt. Ruiz could tell by the trunks of each tree.  The dry tree trunk was a black charred color.  The hydrated tree trunk was still a shade of brown.

“The watered tree burned everything on the outside, where the one that was dry started to get into the inside and burn the tree itself,” Lt. Ruiz said. 

What’s clear is that during a fire, every second counts. Being more cautious and watering your Christmas tree daily could give you and your family more time to get to safety. 


Chris Ramirez

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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