Between 2012-2016, U.S. fire departments responded to an average 170 home fires that started with Christmas trees per year. These fires caused an average of 4 deaths, 15 injuries, and $12 million in direct property damage annually.
- On average, one of every 45 reported home fires that began with a Christmas tree resulted in a death, compared to an average of one death per 139 total reported home fires.
- Electrical distribution or lighting equipment was involved in 43% of home Christmas tree fires.
- In one-quarter (27%) of the Christmas tree fires and in 80% of the deaths, some type of heat source, such as a candle or equipment, was too close to the tree.
- More than one-fifth (22%) of Christmas tree fires were intentional.
- Forty-two percent of reported home Christmas tree fires occurred in December and 33% were reported in January.
- Two of every five (40%) home Christmas tree fires started in the living room, family room, or den.
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 800 home structure fires per year that began with decorations, excluding Christmas trees, in 2012-2016. These fires caused an annual average of two civilian fire deaths, 34 civilian fire injuries and $11 million in direct property damage.
- Ten percent of decoration fires were intentional.
- The decoration was too close to a heat source such as a candle or equipment in two of every five (42%) fires.
- More than one-fifth (21%) of the decoration fires started in the kitchen. Fifteen percent started in the living room, family room or den.
One-fifth (19%) of the home decoration fires occurred in December.
- On average, 23 home candle fires were reported each day between 2012-2016.
More than half (56%) of the December home decoration fires were started by candles, compared to one-third (31%) in January to November.
The top three days for home candle fires were Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year's Eve.
Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires, followed by Christmas Day and Christmas Eve.
Cooking equipment was involved in 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