Officials promote recycling trees before they become a hazard

Christmas is in the books, and the time has come to take down those trees that would have made “National Lampoon’s Vacation” character Clark Griswold proud.

While putting them up brings a feeling of holiday cheer, taking brittle trees down can be a pain. Some people may put the task off too long, which can lead to house fires.

“The longer they are in the home, the more dangerous they become,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association. “The continued use of seasonal lighting and dried-out trees can pose significant fire hazards.”

According to the NFPA, nearly 40 percent of house fires involving a Christmas tree occurred in January.

“Take your trees down before Jan. 15,” said Tara Pike, chairman for the Southern Nevada Christmas Tree Recycling Committee.

There are 34 locations around the valley to drop off Christmas trees, including 11 Lowe’s Home Improvement stores.

More than 15,500 trees were recycled in Southern Nevada last year. That makes more than 144,000 recycled trees since the Conservation District of Southern Nevada began counting in 2001.

Trees can be dropped off from Dec. 26 until Jan. 15 as part of the Christmas Tree Recycling Program.

Pike said that it’s important to keep an eye on artificial trees as well, not just the real ones.

“Artificial trees are made of plastic, so they’re still flammable,” she said. “Both trees have an equal number of pros and cons.”

The 45-foot artificial Christmas tree at Town Square Las Vegas went up in flames Christmas morning about 2 a.m., though the cause of the fire remains under investigation, according to Clark County Fire Chief Jon Klassen.

“Firefighters were able to quickly extinguish the flames,” said Town Square Marketing Director Jamiesen Mapes. ” Thankfully no one was hurt.”

Pike, who is also the coordinator for Rebel Recycling at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said a woman called last May because she finally decided to get rid of her Christmas tree.

“It was all brown and dried out, but we took it,” she said.

Contact reporter Steven Slivka at sslivka@reviewjournal.com. Follow @StevenSlivka on Twitter.