TIME christmas

This Is How Quickly a Christmas Tree Fire Can Turn Into a Blazing Inferno

It's a lot faster than you might think

A new simulation might make you think twice about piling another set of lights onto your Christmas tree, showing how quickly the holiday decoration can turn your house into an inferno.

Researchers at the Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts set up a mock living room complete with carpet, sofa and curtains, and recorded how quickly a fire on the tree could spread. The video shows a cloud of smoke build up within a few seconds, with most of the tree being consumed by the fire 20 seconds after the simulation started. After one minute, the room becomes completely engulfed in flames in what is termed a ‘flashover’.

Raymond Ranellone, the Institute’s Fire Lab Director, said “What makes these trees so dangerous is that it is a significant fire load that we are adding into our houses, and then we’re not properly caring for them.” Ranellone and the Institute’s researchers hope that the video will promote safety over the festive season, and will encourage people to not overload their Christmas trees with electrical appliances.


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