Long Island firefighters light Christmas tree on fire to demonstrate danger

OLD BETHPAGE, Long Island (WABC) -- Minutes are all it takes for a brightly decorated Christmas tree to be lit on fire and ruin the holiday spirit, authorities say.

The Nassau County volunteer fire department lit a Christmas tree on fire on Tuesday morning to show how quickly a dry tree can turn into a devastating house fire.

The controlled burn took place at the Nassau County V.E.E.B. Fire Service Academy in Old Bethpage, where firefighters simulated a live residential fire of Christmas trees to emphasize the importance of keeping them hydrated and to properly dispose of them.

Fire officials say although Christmas tree fires are not common, when they do occur, they are more likely to be extremely serious and cause a lot of damage.

"Each year, over 200 Christmas tree fires cause about six deaths on the average," Nassau County Chief Fire Safety Instructor John V. Murray said. "People think it's not going to happen to me - it can happen to anyone and very quickly."

Firefighters also used the event to share tips on how to properly use holiday candles, menorah candles, decorative lighting and electric cords.

Fire safety experts say Christmas trees should be kept up for no more than 14 days.

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