Between 2014-2018, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 160 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of two deaths, 14 injuries, and $10 million in direct property damage annually.
- Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in almost half (45%) of home Christmas tree fires.
- More than one-fifth (22%) of the Christmas tree fires, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
- Fifteen percent of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
- Roughly three-quarters of Christmas tree fires occurred in December or January.
- More than two of every five (42%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room.
A live Christmas tree burn conducted by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) shows just how quickly a dried out Christmas tree fire burns, with flashover occurring in less than one minute, as compared to a well-watered tree, which burns at a much slower rate.
U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated average of 770 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2014-2018. These fires caused an annual average of two civilian fire deaths, 30 civilian fire injuries and $11 million in direct property damage.
- Eight percent of decoration fires were intentional.
- The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in more than two of every five (44%) fires.
- Twenty-two percent of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. Sixteen percent started in the living room, family room or den. From January to November, one-quarter (24%) of home decoration fires started the kitchen 14% in the living room and 4% in the dining room. In December, 23% of home decoration fires started in the living room, 12% in the kitchen, and 11% in the dining room.
One-fifth (21%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December.
- On average, 21 home candle fires were reported each day between 2014-2018.
Three of every five (60%) candle fires started when something that could burn, such as furniture, mattresses or bedding, curtains, or decorations, was too close to the candle.
Candle fires peak in December. January ranked second. From January through November, 4% of home candle fires started with decorations. This jumped to 12% in December.
- Christmas is the peak day for candle fires with almost three times the daily average.
Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day, the day before Thanksgiving, and Christmas Eve.
Cooking equipment was involved in one of every five (20%) of home decoration fires. This can happen when a decoration is left on or too close to a stove or other cooking equipment.
- Ten percent of fireworks fires occur during the period from December 30 through January 3, with the peak on New Year's Day.
Source: NFPA's Applied Research