Officials urge proper disposal of Christmas trees after one helped fuel a Granada Hills fire

A Christmas tree was among household items that fueled a fast-moving, destructive house fire in Granada Hills, authorities said.

A two-story, single-family home in the 1700 block of West Blackhawk Street was heavily damaged in the blaze, which began at 12:39 a.m., according to the Los Angeles Fire Department. It took 48 minutes for 41 firefighters to knock down the conflagration.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, said Brian Humphrey, a spokesman for the Los Angeles Fire Department. Investigators determined Monday that the tree helped fuel the blaze, but it was not the origin of the fire, Humphrey said.  

“Every square inch of the home is going to be investigated,” Humphrey said.

The fire, he said, was fast-moving and incinerated the house’s second story and attic, as well as outdoor vegetation. There were no injuries, Humphrey said.

Authorities are encouraging people to safely discard their Christmas trees, which become more dangerous fire hazards the longer they’re left in the home and the drier they get, Humphrey said.

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“We’re asking people to continue the festive spirit, but get those trees out of the house,” he said.

Nearly 40% of home fires that begin with Christmas trees occur in January, according to the National Fire Protection Assn. Typically, one out of every 31 reported home-structure Christmas tree fires results in a death, compared to an average of one death per 144 total reported home structure fires that do not involve a Christmas tree, according to the NFPA.

The Los Angeles Bureau of Sanitation is offering free curbside collection for Christmas trees. (Burning a Christmas tree in a fireplace or wood stove can leave sap in the chimney or vent piping, which can create a fire hazard.)

If a tree is too big for the green waste bin, residents can place their trees next to the green bin on collection day, according to the city.

Trees placed in green collection bins should have all ornaments and tinsel removed. Collected Christmas trees are recycled into compost and mulch, according to the city. Residents of multifamily buildings are asked to leave their Christmas trees on the curb on collection day.

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Wrapping paper, Styrofoam and cardboard cartons are recyclable and can be placed in blue city recycling bins.

In addition, several fire stations are accepting Christmas trees, wrapping and other materials until mid-January. They can be found here:http://www.lacitysan.org/tree-recycle.htm

For more Southern California news, follow @haileybranson on Twitter and on Google+.

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UPDATE

11:34 a.m.: This article was updated with information about the investigation. 

This article was originally published at 10:40 a.m.

 

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