“The period between Christmas Eve and New Year’s morning is the single-most hazardous week for fire in all 52 weeks,” said Tom Brace, a former state fire marshal who now works with the National Fire Sprinkler Association.
Brace and current Deputy Fire Marshal Bob Reif briefed reporters inside Lino Lakes Fire Station #2 before setting a demonstration trailer ablaze in the parking lot to show how effective sprinklered homes can be when fires break out.
“Those trees dry out pretty quickly,” said Reif. “When those trees dry out, and they are exposed to open flame, those things can become almost explosive.”
He also warned those who set up outdoor holiday lights to be careful about the use of extension cords.
“If you are going to light up your home, please get quality extension cords,” said Reif. “The fewer the better, and plug them directly into a wall socket.”
The demonstration was also preceded by the story Edina resident Steve Mosborg shared about a fire that started in his home 20 years ago at Christmastime. Admittedly, he said he did a few things that he wished he hadn’t. That included burning giftwrapped boxes in the fireplace.
“The small box just had enough of a pocket of air that it basically caught the live garland on the fire place,” said Mosborg, who suffered severe injuries when he couldn’t escape the fire. Another of his moves proved dangerous: he attempted to grab his burning Christmas tree and drag it out of the house. He suffered severe burns across his body.
“Would it have been nice if I’d had a fire extinguisher? Yes. Would I maybe have smothered the fire? Maybe,” said Mosborg. “But the key is: when I got my wife and daughter to the side door, I should have just left. Nothing is worth almost losing your life.”