HONOLULU (KHON2) — Christmas season is well underway. Lines are already forming to pick up the perfect Christmas tree, but the Honolulu Fire Department is reminding residents that trees could pose a fire hazard if not handled correctly. 

Christmas trees are usually the focal point for every decorated home, but they also quickly burn if there is ever a fire. 

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HFD Fire Inspector Carl Otsuka said, “A live tree, once it catches fire it can burn really hot, really fast. We’re talking within 20 to 30 seconds and that thing will be fully involved on fire.”

It is not uncommon for people to set up their decorative Christmas lights without reading any of the instructions from the manufacturer, but Otsuka said there is important information that could be missed. 

He said, “You are going to look at these tags it actually tells you exactly how much wattage or how many amps are running through one of these.”

Certain manufacturers recommend stringing no more than five cords into one plug, also not all decorative lights are suitable for outdoors. 

Otsuka also said to look out for any damaged cords or light bulbs that could expose the electric wiring. 

He said, “Either you change the bulb if you don’t have a replacement bulb or throw this whole string away.”

The majority of Christmas tree fires involve electrical equipment; it is discouraged to leave decorative lights on overnight or when no one is home. 

“On Christmas Eve, people normally leave these lights on all night, and that is a hazard,” Otsuka said. “We don’t want these plugged in all night. Even if you just leave the room or leave the house for a little, unplug it.” 

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Anyone who experiences a tree fire should run out to safety and call 911 immediately. Those who are looking to purchase an artificial tree should consider buying one that is treated with a fire retardant.