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Christmas Tree Tragedies

January 09, 1994

Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon wants all of the city's Christmas tree vendors to warn buyers about the fire dangers of the trees. We have a thought or two on the subject as well.

If your Christmas tree is still up, you ought to get rid of it properly, like now. There is a simple rule of thumb here. If running your hand along a branch creates a cascade of falling pine needles, you've got a tree that is ready to burn with little prompting. That has occurred with surprising frequency of late.

Fires that began when dried-out Christmas trees ignited like so much seasoned kindling have claimed the lives of three children over the recent holiday season, including a 3-year-old Sylmar boy. An older brother apparently was playing with a lighted candle near the tree when it caught fire. Sixteen other people also were injured in tree-related blazes that damaged seven homes around Southern California.

Among the injured was a firefighter who was attempting to extinguish a fire in Studio City.

Requiring a safety talk by the tree sellers hardly sounds unreasonable, especially with the image of the Southern California wildfires so fresh in our minds.

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