Fire department urges residents to get rid of Christmas trees

Now that all the fun of Christmas is over the Phoenix Fire Department is encouraging residents to get serious about fire safety by recycling dying Christmas trees.

Firefighters demonstrated on Wednesday how quickly a Christmas tree could go up in flames. It took about 10 seconds for a fully decorated tree to be destroyed. Larry Nunez, spokesman for the Phoenix Fire Department, said fires like the one the department demonstrated burn so quickly they often destroy any smoke detectors nearby before they even have a chance to go off.

“It’d start to want to go off but it gets consumed by not only the smoke, but the flames,” Nunez said. “It melts and becomes no good. If there are other smoke detectors in the home that’s nice because it can alert the family and they really only have a few seconds to get out of the residence.”

Nunez said it’s important for people to keep their trees watered and away from any heat source, especially candles. Once the holidays are over it’s best to get the tree out of the home quickly.

“Tree fires cause about 200 fires a year nationally,” Nunez said. “They cause millions in damage and lives lost… People like to keep them up until Jan. 1, but they’re a tinder box. They’re very dry and need to be taken out of the residence.”

The city of Phoenix has ways to help. The city’s Public Works Department will be collecting trees through Saturday, Jan. 5. The trees can be dropped off at Mountain Vista Park, on 50th Street just north of Ray Road, or Desert Foothills Park, at Desert Foothills and Chandler Boulevard. Most parks will be accepting trees from 5:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. The trees will be turned into mulch for city parks.

Trees should be cleared of all decorations or stands before being dropped off. The Public Works Department also asks residents to be careful while transporting trees to drop off locations and to only drop off trees in designated areas.

Living container-grown trees can be donated to the city for replanting in city parks. Parks will only accept 15-gallon-sized or 24-inch box-sized trees. They need to be Aleppopine (Pinus Halepensis), Eldrica pine or Goldwater pine (Pinus eldarica), CanaryIslandpine (Pinus canariensis) or Chir pine (Pinus roxburghii). For more information about donating a living tree, call (602) 534-9440.

Dying Christmas trees can also be dropped off at A to Z Equipment Rentals and Sales or at city transfer stations. For more information on locations and hours to drop off trees, visit phoenix.gov/publicworks or call (602) 262-7251.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-7914 or ahurtado@ahwatukee.com