Christmas Tree Fire Forces Family From Home

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Lopez Santiago family was displaced by the fire.

    If you still have your Christmas tree up, the fire department has a warning for you.

    A tree one Serra Mesa family has was relatively small, but the fire it caused overnight was big enough to displace the family and force evacuations.

    "One of the kids went downstairs and figured out there was a fire," said fire victim Eva Lopez Santiago.

    The flames burning in the living room were up to 9 feet high, officials said. The combination of a dry Christmas tree and the lights around it caused an electronic short. It's not an uncommon problem, but it's often ignored.

    "Christmas trees are dry -- electrical lights get hot, so get that tree disposed of and keep it hydrated if you're lighting it up at night," said Capt. Mike McBride of San Diego Fire/Rescue.

    The fire was put out quickly, but the few minutes it burned were enough to cause extensive damage.

    "There is smoke damage throughout the residence, and water damage in the first floor," McBride said.

    The family, of course, is thankful they were able to get out of the house in time.

    "That's nothing -- I have my kids alive with me, so that's all that matters to me," Lopez said.

    No one was injured by the fire. The Red Cross is providing the family with temporary housing.