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Montana fire official offers up holiday safety advice - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Montana fire official offers up holiday safety advice

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BOZEMAN - Holiday lights and trees are beautiful  but they also can be quite dangerous.

We're in full swing of the holidays and Central Valley Fire Marshal Bruce Hennequin says the most common blaze starter they see comes from cooking.

"Obviously around the holidays we're cooking more and spending more time with family and friends in the kitchen, so cooking is going to be a major factor and consideration. And we encourage folks to stay in the kitchen when you're cooking and to stay in the kitchen when you're cooking," Hennequin said.

Another concern will be keeping your Christmas tress from catching fire.

"Make sure you keep them watered just make sure you are running your fingers down the branches if a bunch of needles maybe falling off you may have some problems," Hennequin cautioned.

Just as important as making sure the tree is watered is checking the lights, "make sure the lights are safe and listed by a third party testing organization," Hennequin said.

Finally, keep open flames away from garland and trees battery powered candles will work just as well and will be a lot safer. 


The National Fire Protection Agency offers up more safety advice on their website including the following:

Picking the tree

  • Choose a tree with fresh, green needles that do not fall off when touched.

Placing the tree

  • Before placing the tree in the stand, cut 2" from the base of the trunk.
  • Make sure the tree is at least three feet away from any heat source, like fireplaces, radiators, candles, heat vents or lights.
  • Make sure the tree is not blocking an exit.
  • Add water to the tree stand. Be sure to add water daily.

Lighting the tree

  • Use lights that have the label of an independent testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer's instructions for number of light strands to connect. 
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

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