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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Dry Christmas Tree Involved in Brandywine Home Fire with Injury

MEDIA CONTACT: Mark E. Brady, Chief Spokesperson, 240-508-7930

Just before 9:00 pm, Thursday, 
January 5, 2012, firefighters from Baden and other surrounding communities, including units from Charles County, were alerted to a house fire. Fire/EMS units arrived on the scene in the 16200 block of Ashbox Road in Brandywine and encountered a 1-story single family home with heavy fire showing.

Firefighters initially fought the fire from the exterior of the home and than entered the structure to complete the extinguishment after the bulk of the fire had been knocked down. 

Two occupants were at home and both were able to exit the home prior to the Fire/EMS Department arrival.

An adult female occupant and her daughter sustained minor burns and singed hair were treated on the scene and transported to a local hospital for treatment. The injured occupant told firefighters that a small electrical short ignited the family Christmas tree.  The tree suddenly burst into flames causing her injury and spread quickly throughout the house.  She described the tree ignition as “exploding.”

The structure sustained extensive, if not total, damage and is uninhabitable. The family will be assisted by the County Citizen Services Unit and the American Red Cross with temporary shelter.  Fire loss estimates are still being tabulated.  A family pet, a 4-month old dog, is missing.

This incident should serve as a warning that if your “live” Christmas tree is still inside your house IT MUST BE REMOVED IMMEDIATELY.  Warning - a tree that has already turned dry and brittle needs to be removed immediately to eliminate the increased probability of a fire.  The United States Fire Administration (USFA) states that as trees, which are in one-third of all households, dry out, the risk of fires increase. 

This video demonstrates just how quick a dry tree is consumed with fire compared to one that has-been well maintained.  All trees, regardless of maintenance, will dry out.  Remove your tree now and avoid any chance of this occurring in your home.

Remember “Safety First” ensures everyone goes home; it’s beyond time to remove the tree and keep your family safe.  This is a good time to remember to check your smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector to ensure they are working. 

Once your tree is outside simply place it on your curb.  Never burn your discarded tree.

The Department of Environmental Resources (DER) and Waste Management Division (WMD) is offering recycling services to residents with County - provided yard waste collection.  If you live in an incorporated city or municipality, check with your local Department of Environmental Resources and Waste Management offices as many offer similar services.

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