On the morning of January 19, 2015, I woke very early to the sound of a helicopter circling. Then came the smell of smoke. As the crow flies, the distance between my house and what was the home of Don and Sandra Pyle on Child’s Point Road is about 1.5 miles. Don and Sandra lost this lives that morning, as did four of their young grandchildren.
The final report from the ATF states, “It is the opinion of all participating investigators that the fire originated under or near the Christmas tree in the Great Room. Specifically, a probable high resistance connection inside the floor receptacle under the tree subsequently ignited the plastic sheet and/or
decorative blanket/tree skirt, which in turn ignited the Christmas tree.”
According to that report, the Christmas tree in the Great Room was dry – branches were drooping and needles were steadily dropping.
Please, please, please don’t leave Christmas trees up for too long beyond Christmas. If you do, make sure they’re watered. But if they’re dry, take them down, throw them out, donate them to a park – just don’t leave them in your homes.
According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), more than 200 home fires each year start with a Christmas tree. In this video, NIST fire researchers demonstrate what could happen if a fire starts in a watered Christmas tree vs. a dry Christmas tree. For Christmas tree safety tips, visit the NFPA website at http://www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/By-topic/Seasonal-fires/Winter-holiday-safety/Christmas-tree-fires(link is external).
There were two Christmas trees at the Pyle home, according to the ATF report. They were scheduled to be removed on January 20.