Christmas lights caused a house at Dallas Bay to go up in flames on Sunday morning.
At 2 a.m., the home owner, Charles Parent, called 911 reporting a house fire at 1963 Thrasher Pike. The Dallas Bay Volunteer Fire Department responded and arrived on the scene within four minutes reporting fire showing on the deck that runs the whole back side of the house.
Firefighters worked quickly to contain the fire to the back porch and kept the fire from spreading to the house.
Dallas Bay Fire Chief Markus Fritts reported, "The daughter awoke to get a drink of water and saw the fire on the back deck." Chief Fritts said the cause of the fire was "weathered" rope lighting on the back deck. "The roped lightning had been exposed to the outdoors for years and can be a huge fire hazard if not checked or replaced," said Chief Fritts.
Damages are estimated at $10,000. No injuries were reported, but Hamilton County EMS was on the scene for any potential injuries.
Amy Maxwell of county EMS said, "I encourage everyone during this holiday season to review this Christmas Lights Safety List to avoid any potential hazards to occur at your house.
- Before you string up a single strand of lights, carefully check them for cracked cords, frayed ends or loose connections.
- The combination of shorts in electrical lights and a tinder-dry tree can be deadly.There are 250 Christmas tree fires and 14 related deaths each year, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. So keep your tree well-watered. Not only will it stay fresh and green, but it might also keep your house from burning down.
- Modern lights have fused plugs, preventing sparks in case of a short circuit. Ditch old strands of lights that don't have fuses and get a set of newer, safer lights.
- If bulbs have burned out, replace them right away, but make sure you use the correct wattage bulbs.
- Water and debris can get into outdoor sockets, so make sure outdoor lights are plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet to reduce the risk of shorts and shocks.
- Keep an eye on extension cords, as they can occasionally overheat. Just touch-test the cord. If it's hot, unplug it.
- Don't use tacks, nails or screws to hang lights, which can pierce the cable and become electrified. Use insulated hooks instead.
- When running extension cords along the ground, make sure to elevate plugs and connectors with a brick to keep snow, water and debris out of the connections.
- Tape down any ground-level extension cords to prevent people from tripping over them.
- Check to make sure lights have been rated by a testing laboratory. You can see a list of federally recognized labs on the Occupational Safety & Health Administration's website.
- Not all lights are rated for outdoor use. Indoor lights often have thinner insulation, which can become cracked and damaged when exposed to the elements outdoors. So make sure the ones you string up on the house belong out there.
- Don't leave Christmas lights running when you go to bed at night or when you leave the house.
- When you put your lights back into storage after the holidays, make sure to put them in a well-sealed container to prevent possible water damage and to block hungry rodents looking to turn the cords into lunch. My final advice? Be careful with ladders.