LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - When it comes to Christmas trees, many of us prefer the real thing. There's just something about the smell of fresh pine in the house that says Christmas.
But with a great smell comes great responsibility: You have to keep it watered.
With the help of the Longview Fire Department, we put together a burn comparison to see the difference between a dried out tree and a watered tree.
I asked Kevin May with the Longview Fire Department if we could burn a moist tree and a dry one as a comparison. He agreed and set it up at the Longview Training Field at the burn house.
First he picked up two trees.
"Both these Christmas trees were bought at the same time. One immediately went into water, and the other one hasn't been watered," May explained.
Ten days later it was test time. First a firefighter lit up the watered tree:
"To see how fast this one will burn compared to the other one, to show the safety and make sure you take care of your live Christmas trees," May said.
The tree seemed to go up pretty quickly. At 28 seconds the tree was about half involved, and by fifty seconds the whole tree was on fire.
"The Christmas tree soaked up the water to keep the tree, the trunk and the branches and everything green; keeps them healthy. Will it burn? Yes," May said.
At about two minutes the tree was close to burning itself out, and by 2:25 it was pretty much embers.
Then it was time for the ignored tree. With no water, the tree was burning at about four seconds. It took 11 seconds to get the watered tree going. The dry tree was half on fire by 15 seconds and fully involved 10 seconds later. At 48 seconds the room was half full of smoke, and with the plastic tree stand devoid of water:
"The plastic itself started burning. That puts off toxic and noxious smoke which could contribute to a death in a fire," May said.
The tree stand with water in it only burned a little. The dry tree burned much more quickly and:
"The tree itself burned hotter, so anything in the area is more susceptible to catching on fire than the live tree. It could still happen but the other one has more potential for it to catch surrounding combustibles on fire," May said.
There's no doubt both scenarios are pretty horrific, but a dried out tree goes up quicker, burns hotter and is more likely to spread quickly.
So, yes, it may be a pain to get water into the stand, but it's worth it. If you have indoor pets, check it more often. Some pets love to drink that tree stand water.
Kevin May also points out it is against the fire code to have a live tree in an apartment, duplex or any multi-family dwelling.
If you'd like to see a side by side real time comparison of the trees burning click here.