Slumped in the gutter, nearly invisible in the dark, a lone Christmas tree lies discarded as it waits to be collected. Families are clearing out their homes — it is a new year, and the holidays are over.
Then, in a matter of seconds, the tree bursts into flames, hot orange and yellow hues raging against the otherwise quiet night sky.
Over the past week, numerous Christmas trees have seen similar fates as unknown culprits set fire to them throughout Lodi.
Lodi firefighters have been called out to more than a dozen Christmas tree fires since the first of the year, and even though no one has been injured and there has been no property damage, firefighters do not want to take a chance.
Administrative chief Amy New of the Lodi Fire Department said while there has been a rash of trees catching fire over the past week, she was unsure if statistically it was higher than in years past.
New added that there are no witnesses or leads yet in any of the cases in which Christmas trees have been set on fire.
“The biggest danger to those setting (the trees) on fire is how close in proximity the trees are to structures and other flammable items,” she said. “Now, you are not just talking about setting a discarded tree on fire, you are talking about potentially threatening lives and homes.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, Christmas trees account for roughly 240 fires annually, which generally result in approximately 13 deaths and more than $16.7 million in property damage.
The best way to try to combat the recent Christmas tree blazes?
Keep your trees watered and inside until trash day, New said.
“Unfortunately, we have individuals in Lodi who will light trees on fire instead of being upstanding citizens,” New said. “Really, keep your trees inside and watered. Having them (inside) relieves any temptation.”
Contact reporter Katie Nelson at email@example.com.