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Firefighters save Montecito estate from going up in flames

A two-story Montecito estate was saved by firefighters after smoke and flames ravaged part of the residence Sunday night.

The Montecito Fire Protection District says the fire was confined to two rooms on the first floor, with significant smoke damage throughout the estate.

The incident occurred in the 700 block of Cold Springs Road just before 9 p.m. No one was hurt in the fire.

While an official cause of the fire has not yet been determined, fire investigators say the origin of the fire was in the area of a large Christmas tree.

Fire officials warn that while Christmas trees are a long-standing tradition during the holiday season, they can also be a major source of fuel in a fire.

According to the Montecito Fire Protection District, Christmas trees were to blame for an estimated average of 210 home fires per year, “resulting in an annual average of six civilian fire deaths, 16 civilian fire injuries, and $16.2 million in direct property damage.”

The Montecito Fire Protection District has the following safety tips to reduce the risk of property damage, injury or death:

Unlike incandescent bulbs which generate most of their energy in heat, LEDs are cool to the touch–which also indicates greater energy-efficiency. LEDs are made with epoxy lenses, not glass and are much more durable. When hanging lights outdoors, use a wooden or fiberglass ladder. Never connect more than three strands of incandescent lights together. Carefully inspect each electrical decoration. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires, and loose connections may cause a serious shock or start a fire. Follow the manufacturer’s use and care instructions that accompany electrical decorations. Avoid overloading electrical outlets with too many decorations or electrical devices. They can overheat and cause a fire. Do not use an extension cord to plug in a power strip. Instead, use a strip that will reach directly to the outlet. Make sure that cords are not pinched in doors, windows, or under heavy furniture, which could damage the cord’s insulation. Do not mount or support light strings in a way that might damage the cord’s insulation. Always unplug electrical decorations before replacing bulbs or fuses. Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving home or going to sleep. Never drape anything over a light bulb or lamp shade. Avoid using candles when possible. Consider using battery-operated candles in place of traditional candles. Never leave an open flame unattended. Keep burning candles within sight. Extinguish all candles before you leave the room or go to bed. Place lighted candles away from combustible material and areas where they might be knocked over. Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Keep candles away from other decorations and wrapping paper. Do not burn wrapping paper as a means of disposal.
Follow these basic safety guidelines to help prevent electrical and fire hazards related to the use of Christmas trees. When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree will stay green longer and be less of a fire hazard than a dry tree. Cut 1-2 inches from the base of the trunk immediately before placing the tree in the stand and filling with water to ensure water absorption. Because heated rooms dry out live trees rapidly, be sure to keep the stand filled with water by refilling daily. When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label “Fire Resistant.” This label indicates that the tree is more resistant to burning. Don’t use electrical ornaments or light strings on artificial trees with metallic leaves or branch coverings. Place your tree at least 3 feet away from all heat sources, including fireplaces, radiators, and space heaters. When trimming a tree, only use non-combustible or flame-resistant materials.

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