In a recycled tree lot close to Sea World San Diego, an explosive burned Christmas trees and endangered areas nearby with its flying embers. It was the second fire in the same lot in the last week. An arsonist is suspected of starting the blaze.
Captain Mike Howell of the San Diego Fire Department told ABC 10 San Diego, “We’ve probably had 20 to 30 trees involved today when we got here. These Christmas trees, you’ve seen them go up on the news before. Even one goes up really big, so 20 to 30 you get a lot of fire from.”
Although there is little immediately near the surrounding area, plentiful embers set free from the trees can be easily carried by the wind, putting nearby canyons and neighborhoods at risk. Howell explained that the Fire Department, aware of the possible magnitude of the fire because of the hundreds of unburned recycled Christmas trees close to the fire, tried to stay ahead of the fire’s progress. He said, “You know, four engines and a battalion chief and a water tender tied up for about an hour.”
Fires from Christmas trees are not unusual; the National Fire Protection Association has reported that between 2007-2011, U.S. fire departments dealt with an average of 230 fires per year from Christmas trees in homes, with an average of 6 deaths, 22 injuries, and $18.3 million in direct property damage. Dried out Christmas trees pose a particularly high risk; as recently as last month, Gary West, deputy commissioner of the Department of Commerce and Insurance’s Fire Prevention Division in Tennessee, warned citizens to keep their Christmas trees in water so their needles would not dry out.