Worst-Case Wednesday: How to Extinguish a Christmas Tree Fire

Posted by Basia Padlo

It always gets warm in the house during the holiday party—with everyone crowded in together, how could it not? But has it ever gotten a little too warm? Specifically, on fire kind of warm? To help deal with any small tree fires that may occur this holiday season, we're busting out The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook: Holidays.

Assess the size and nature of the fire.
Quickly determine if the source of the fire is electrical, and observe how large an area of the tree is burning. A fire larger than the size of a small wastebasket cannot usually be contained, even with a home extinguisher. If the first is that large, evacuate the building and call the fire department from a cellular phone or a neighbor's home.

If the fire is small and not electrical, douse it or smother it.
Extinguish the fire with a bucket of water or a multi-purpose (Class ABC) fire extinguisher, or smother it with a wet blanket.

If the fire is electrical, use a fire extinguisher.
Do not throw water on an electrical fire. Use a multi-purpose (Class ABC) home fire extinguisher.

When using a fire extinguisher, standing with your back toward an exit, six to eight feet from the fire, and Pull, Aim, Squeeze, Sweep (PASS).
Pull the release tab, aim at the base of the fire, squeeze the lever to release the pressurized chemicals, and sweep from side to side as you slowly move closer to the fire.

If the fire is still spreading, exit the house.
Evacuate the building quickly. Do not attempt to save ornaments, Christmas presents, or other valuables.