State Fire Marshal Stephen D. Coan said, "Start the new year off right by properly disposing of your Christmas tree. A dried out Christmas tree will ignite quickly and spread a fire very fast."

Many people's tradition is to put up their Christmas trees right after Thanksgiving, which makes them tinder dry by New Year's Eve. Some traditions are to put up the tree Christmas Eve and leave it up till Twelfth Night (January 6), but they should be taken down at that point as well. Last year we had several fires involving Christmas trees that lingered too long in homes.

On Jan. 9, 2012, at 9:11 a.m., the Lunenburg Fire Department was called to a smoking fire in a four-unit condominium. The smoking materials ignited the living room sofa. The dried out Christmas tree was located next to the couch. A single sprinkler head activated and controlled the fire. No one was injured at this fire. Detectors were present and operated but no one was home at the time of the fire. Damages from this fire were estimated at $27,000.

Coan said, "Not everyone is lucky enough to live in a building with fire sprinklers like these folks were. So it's important to take a few steps to protect your family from fire."

Disposal of the Tree

Take advantage of community pick-up days or recycling programs, many of which will take place next week. To find out if your community has a Christmas tree recycling program, contact your local public works department or recycling committee or visit Earth911 (http://massachusetts.earth911.org/) and enter your ZIP Code for a profile of recycling services in your community.

Coan said, "Discarded Christmas trees can also provide an easy fuel for arsonists."