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Officials: Yacht club fire due to Christmas tree

Fire fighters battle a blaze that broke out at Annapolis Yacht Club on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Bob Waugh)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) — Fire investigators have concluded a fire that badly damaged the Annapolis Yacht Club was caused by an electrical malfunction with a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree.

The Annapolis Fire Department said in a news release Monday that damage estimates are expected to exceed $9 million.

The three-alarm fire happened on Dec. 12. A firefighter was treated for minor injuries.

Annapolis Fire Chief David Stokes noted that it’s the second time a Christmas tree fire has had a major impact in the Annapolis community. In January, an electrical fire that spread to a 15-foot Christmas tree prompted a blaze that killed a couple and four of their young grandchildren.

Stokes is urging people to be mindful of the potential dangers of holiday decorations and practice good safety habits.

Captain John Bowes with the Annapolis Fire Department says people need to be mindful of the fire dangers with trees.

“A lot of people think that artificial trees are a lot safer than live trees — which overall, they are — however you got to keep in mind a lot of times while the tree may be flame retardant or flame resistant, a lot of the decorations are not,” Bowes says.

Checking fire hazards every year should be common practice as you unload the holiday decorations, he adds.

“People have to be cognizant of their electrical appliances at Christmas time such as Christmas lights and other electrical things,” he says. “After a couple of years, if they are showing wear and tear or fraying and anything like that, you have to throw them away.”

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