Local Fire Department Warns of Holiday Decoration Fire Danger

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JOHNSTON, Iowa -- With the holidays come decorations, and the Johnston-Grimes Metro Fire Department has a decorating tradition aimed at keeping folks safe during the season.

It's called "keeping the wreath red.” For the past three years the department has hung wreaths on the station decorated with red light bulbs.

If they have to respond to a fire started because of holiday decorations, they would change a red bulb to a white bulb. In three years, they've never changed a bulb.

According to the fire department almost half of decoration fires are started because decorations are placed too close to a heat source, and two out of every five involve candles.

"Anytime you have candles lit, make sure before you go to bed or before you leave the room that you extinguish the candle and unplug your tree or your decorations before leaving the house," said Fire Chief Jim Clark.

Clark says with the holidays come plenty of distractions. Shopping, family, and food can cause someone to forget leaving the lights on; and though most of these reminders are common sense, it's good to be reminded because often times these types of fires cause a lot of damage.

"They spread quickly and especially with live trees we want to make sure people keep them watered, make sure people check them regularly and don't place them near any heat vents that might dry them out," said Clark.

Clark says personal space heaters during the winter time are also one of the leading causes of holiday time fires.