“The longer trees remain in homes, the higher the fire risk,” State Fire Marshal Kevin S. Reardon is quoted in a news release. “Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home, garage, or placed outside against the house.”
As live trees dry out, they turn into fire hazards, according to the National Fire Protection Association, and a third of all house fires involving Christmas trees happen after the holidays are over. Between 2015 and 2019, 160 home structure fires were caused by trees, resulting in two deaths, 12 injuries and $10 million in property damage.
Though Christmas tree fires aren’t common, “they are more likely to be serious,” reads the release. A video published by the association shows it only takes about 30 seconds for a fire ignited on an un-watered tree to fully engulf its surrounding area.
Christmas trees donated to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources are turned into wildlife habitats, according to the release. Several places in Northeast Ohio recycle discarded trees. Find tree recycling or composting options in those counties here:
Last year was the deadliest for house fires in state history, Reardon told reporters in late December.
More than 150 people died by fire in Ohio in 2022 — the most ever in one year and more than in 2013, which was the previous record year for fire fatalities.
“These are obviously records we’re not proud of. All of these fires — beyond the toll that it’s taken on family and friends of these victims — it takes a toll on the firefighters that respond to these fires,” Reardon said.