Stop, drop, and promptly soil yourself.
November 30, 2005 6:55 PM   Subscribe

One dry scotch pine tree, plus one string of old christmas lights, has the potential to add up to a really bad day. [qt] This can happen after a tree has been drying for three weeks or so. [pdf] So please - keep them watered!
posted by icosahedral (30 comments total)
I have to side with the religious right on this one -- a war on Christmas is underway. And fire is winning.
posted by kingfisher, his musclebound cat at 7:08 PM on November 30, 2005

I bet that it was all caused by the darkest bulb upon the tree.
posted by Hogshead at 7:09 PM on November 30, 2005

I get a dry scotch pine every year, string it with faulty lights and leave it plugged in and unattended because I care about my family.

Merry Christmas!

posted by MiltonRandKalman at 7:11 PM on November 30, 2005

Yeah. So when I saw that, I definitely thought it was slo-mo. I had to go back and time that the seconds were actually seconds.

I don't think we'll opt for Scotch pine this year.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:19 PM on November 30, 2005

Yeah, screw Scotch pines. Fraser firs are where it's at. 'Cause they're... impervious... to fire. Or something.
posted by brundlefly at 7:23 PM on November 30, 2005

"Yeah. So when I saw that, I definitely thought it was slo-mo.

So you thought that it actually happened faster than you saw it?
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:27 PM on November 30, 2005, no. Sorry.
posted by booksandlibretti at 7:29 PM on November 30, 2005

holy raging inferno, batman.
posted by mrplab at 7:35 PM on November 30, 2005

Okay, so this validates my descision to use a live potted plam this year.

But I'm gonna string it up with firecrackers! Watch yer butt, Santy Claus!
posted by maryh at 7:42 PM on November 30, 2005

And under NO circumstance should you deep-fry a turkey under a dry Scotch Pine.
posted by Etaoin Shrdlu at 8:07 PM on November 30, 2005

Right that's it no more Xmas in the carter household.
posted by carter at 8:18 PM on November 30, 2005

Holy crap, these truly are a weapon of mass destruction.

Time to invade, umm... Scotland?
posted by justkevin at 9:08 PM on November 30, 2005

cmon dont make me scared of christmas i need it.
posted by pwally at 9:14 PM on November 30, 2005

So help me out on this one... if a regular christmas tree burns up, would an upside-down christmas tree burn down?
posted by crunchland at 9:32 PM on November 30, 2005

I just stopped laughing about that exploding turkey machine of holiday tragedy. Now this? What's next? Little head-exploding New Years hats? I can't wait.
posted by Jon-o at 10:13 PM on November 30, 2005

Or, you could just refuse to kill a tree and put its rotting corpse in your living room in conformance to some silly old tradition anyway. Iconoclastically speaking, of course. Being a true-life honest-to-god tree-hugger, I prefer for trees to be left to live their long, natural and beatiful lives in the forest where they belong, thank you very much.
posted by wadefranklin at 10:22 PM on November 30, 2005

Won't someone think of THE SAPLINGS??
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:39 AM on December 1, 2005

Waderfranklin: I considered feeling as you do, then I heard that the Christmas tree industry actually has a positive impact on the atmosphere, from all those trees raised only to be cut for decorations.

That being said, I don't bother to decorate for Christmas anymore, anyway.
posted by Goofyy at 12:53 AM on December 1, 2005

I don't bother to decorate for Christmas anymore, anyway.

Merry Christmas Mr Scrooge!
posted by lemonfridge at 2:12 AM on December 1, 2005

between this and "running with scissors", it's amazing any of us are still alive....!
posted by HuronBob at 2:23 AM on December 1, 2005

Oh Christmas tree, oh christmas tree, how you burn my house down....
posted by Larzarus at 2:27 AM on December 1, 2005

Don't forget blowing yourself up with firecrackers on Independence Day, Huronbob.
posted by crunchland at 4:53 AM on December 1, 2005

Given a chance, Christmas will destroy you and everyone you care about.
posted by Who_Am_I at 5:12 AM on December 1, 2005

Wow. Why use gasoline, arsonists?

Of course the seconds were accurate. This is NIST we're talking about, they *define* seconds.
posted by eriko at 5:13 AM on December 1, 2005

When I lived in Carolina, I had some friends who lived on 20 acres out in the woods who sometimes did Good But Destructive things -- they had a Guy one Guy Fawkes Day, f'r'instance, because lighting a fake dude full of firecrackers is good. Anyway, this one year they had two christmas trees and a bunch of trimming, so afterwards they chucked it on their brush pile and waited. And waited. And waited until the trees, and the rest of the brush pile, were tinder-dry.

Then we lit them.

And about 20 seconds later, as the flames were going higher than the full-grown pines ~50 feet away, and we were busily knocking the flames down with a hose, we realized that this wasn't the smartest thing we'd ever done. Impressive as hell, though.

We still set of fireworks there the next New Years, though.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:21 AM on December 1, 2005

When I were a wee lad, one year, a week or so after Christmas, my father decided to get rid of our Christmas tree by cutting it up and tossing it in the fireplace rather than carting it outside.

We all sat in abject terror in our living room as the entire house shook with the intense ferocity of the fire. I don't think I ever saw my father scared except for that one night. We were all convinced that the house was going to explode.

My parents went out the next weekend and bought an artificial tree on an after-Christmas sale at Sears and we never had a real Christmas tree again. Thirty-odd years later, my mother still uses that same tree year after year.
posted by briank at 5:38 AM on December 1, 2005

photoset of burning christmas tree

Found this looking for pictures of Christmas tree bonfires on San Francisco's Ocean Beach -- doesn't really do it justice, but pretty nontheless.
posted by eddydamascene at 6:17 AM on December 1, 2005

Every Boy Scout knows that dry pine branches make excellent tinder. Most know that dry pine branches with needles make pretty "fireworks" when dropped in a fire. Anyone who wants a live tree should be aware of this, and should remember to water the damn tree regularly.

We always had live trees growing up (sunken living room, cathedral ceiling, and still there were years that the angel at the top of the tree was squished against the ceiling, because Mom couldn't bear to trim another inch off of the 14 foot pine...). Lots of dry needles on the floor but no fires. Of course living out west we always went up in the mountains and cut our own tree so we knew how long it had been sitting out before bringing it inside. If you didn't cut it yourself you have no guarantees. Don't buy a pre-cut tree from a lot, folks. They spray them with some chemicals to keep the needles from dropping, even if they're bone dry. Try snapping a small branch - if the sap isn't wet and sort of runny (albeit sticky) the tree is a fire hazard.

Personally I find it sort of sad to get the tree out of a box every year. As I'm renting I have to do it, no live tree, but I want a live one when I get my own place. (Provided my wife's sinuses can handle it, of course. Her mom can't take a live tree.)
posted by caution live frogs at 6:18 AM on December 1, 2005

Wade: the trees my family get come from under the high voltage transmission lines. Its either you chop it down now, and let it fulfill its christmas destiny for a few weeks, or the power company swings by next summer to turn it into wood chips.
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 10:19 AM on December 1, 2005

This is my favorite movie to show my fireplace customers who say:
"i don't need proper clearance (spark screen, chimney top, smoke detector,(pick one)) it will be ok"
Works most of the time....
posted by blink_left at 6:22 PM on December 1, 2005

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