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Watch out for fires during the holidays

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Watch out for fires during the holidays
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

The holiday season brings together family and friends, but it also can bring sorrow in an instant.

According to the U.S. Fire Administration, over 400 people die during the holiday season due to fire. Fires also injure more than 1,600 people and cause close to $1 billion in damage.

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Detroit Lakes Fire Chief Jeff Swanson said that there are a couple of things to watch for that could ignite a fire.

"Wrapping and packaging materials have a low ignition point," Swanson said.

Christmas lights are another potential problem and they need to be looked at, Swanson said.

He added that space heaters could be dangerous as well if they are placed too close to any combustible materials.

Candles pose a problem as they tend to be used more during holiday celebrations.

"Candles are a huge concern in the fire safety world," Swanson said.

He added that with local residents hosting distant relatives, some safety items are easily overlooked with the commotion of get-togethers taking place.

With Christmas passing by a few days ago, Christmas trees are a point of emphasis now.

Trees still need to be watered if they are still inside, Swanson said.

"They tend to get on the dry side," he said.

And it doesn't take long for a dry Christmas tree to go from a small spark to being engulfed in flames.

Videos on the U.S. Fire Administration Web site show that it takes seconds for a tree to ignite.

"Things happen fast," Swanson said.

Fire safety tips and videos that show how fast it takes for a dry tree to catch on fire at available at www.usfa.dhs.gov/safety/tips/holiday.shtm.

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