GULFPORT -- Christmas decorations can be a lovely addition to any home, but can also pose a serious fire hazard.
The Gulfport Fire Department on Thursday conducted a demonstration that showed how quickly a Christmas decorations-related fire can spread.
Firefighters re-created a typical holiday home scene complete with presents, an un-watered tree, carpet, and wood-paneled walls.
As soon as the tree caught fire, the entire room quickly became engulfed in flames.
"That lasted less than two minutes," Gulfport Fire Chief Mike Beyrstedt said. "It went from the tree catching fire to the whole house being engulfed very quickly."
He said at least one recent fire in Harrison County was caused by Christmas decorations.
"Nationally, there are more 1,000 fires a year caused by Christmas decorations," he said.
Faulty wiring, space heaters and unattended trees pose the biggest threats for holiday fires.
"Lights can overheat and the electronics can malfunction," he said. "Equally as hazardous is having flammable sources too close to a tree. You have to keep the tree watered."
"Also, unplug the electronics if you aren't going to be at home or awake for long periods of time."
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, one in three home Christmas-tree fires is caused by electrical problems, but candles are also an issue.
"People like to burn candles during the holidays and an unattended candle is a fire risk," he said.