Fire officials urge proper care of real Christmas trees to avoid tragedy

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Fire Department officials are urging folks to stay safe this holiday season -- and that involves making sure Christmas trees are watered frequently in order to avoid a fire.

For the Smykal family, a fake Christmas tree was not an option this holiday season. In a small temporary pine forest near Lilly and Appleton Ave. in Menomonee Falls, the family selected the perfect tree on Sunday, November 25th.

"We look for the ones that aren't too tall. It's got to be green, and it's got to have enough fluff. We like the fresh smell of the fresh Christmas tree," Tim Smykal said.

Milwaukee Fire Lt. Schuyler Belott says those going with fresh Christmas trees this year need to remember to properly care for them.

"While they are completely safe as long as you take care of them, if you have a dry tree that is not being taken care of, and there is any kind of spark, it can be very disastrous and move very rapidly," Lt. Belott said.

The National Fire Protection Agency estimates Christmas trees are responsible for 21 deaths each year in the United States.

Fire officials say it has become safer to own a real tree over the years, with the addition of LED light technology. 

For the Smykal's, safety is simple and a priority. 

"We make sure we water it every morning when we wake up," Smykal said.

Firefighters say the biggest cause of fires are from candles and overcrowded outlets.