EAST HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — A tree is likely already up, lit, and decorated if you celebrate Christmas.

The East Haven Fire Department wants to help you avoid a Christmas catastrophe this year by sharing important fire safety tips. On Friday, they teamed up with ServPro, a cleaning and disaster restoration company, to demonstrate how quickly a Christmas tree can ignite in an electrical fire.

According to the National Fire Research Laboratory, firefighters across the country respond to roughly 200 Christmas tree fires in homes every year. On average, the Red Cross said that one out of every 22 house fires caused by Christmas trees is fatal.

“We want you to realize that this can be a big deal,” said Charles Miller, deputy chief and fire marshall at the East Haven Fire Department.

In the East Haven ServPro parking lot on Bradley Street, crews set up a fully-furnished living room with a live Christmas tree, decorations, and wrapped presents for the controlled demonstration. Fire crews then simulated an electrical fire, making it as realistic as possible.

The Christmas tree was on fire within seconds, spreading to the presents and nearby furniture. At about the 4-minute mark, the entire living room was fully engulfed in flames.

Miller stresses the importance of getting out in a case like this.

“We would like to see you get out of the house. Call 911,” Miller said. “Let us come and take care of it. We don’t want to see injuries. We don’t want to see you hurt, especially around the holidays, because we know how important families are to each other.”

The East Haven Fire Department shared several tips on how to avoid a Christmas tree fire:

“You should water your tree every day. You should keep it at least three feet from any heat source. You should keep it out of any doorways or ways to get out of your house. You don’t want to block that,” Miller said.

Some other important tips to keep in mind this holiday season:

  • Make sure holiday lights are in good condition
  • Check each bulb
  • Look for any frays or broken wires
  • Make sure electric cords are in working order
  • Check your smoke detectors
  • Don’t leave the house with your Christmas tree lights on
  • Don’t go to bed with holiday lights on