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VERIFY: Are real or fake Christmas trees safer?

To get the answer, we set an artificial and live tree on fire to see what happened and spoke to Macon Bibb's fire educator.

MACON, Ga. — Whether it's real or fake, it's not quite Christmastime until the tree is standing tall and shining brightly. 

But with all the electricity circulating around the tree, it can go up in flames in a matter of seconds.

"A Christmas tree fire can actually be a total loss to a home if it's burning long enough," Macon-Bibb Fire Educator Jeremy Webb said. 

RELATED: Macon-Bibb fire educator named best in the state

So when it comes to trees catching on fire, which is the safer option -- real or fake?

To answer, we set an artificial and live tree on fire to see what happened. We're not kidding.

When it came time to light each tree on fire, the fake one wouldn't catch with just a lighter, so we fueled the flames. After about a gallon of gasoline, we finally had a real blaze going. 

With the real tree, the fire spread pretty easily without lighter fluid, but the flames didn't stick around.

"A dried out Christmas tree can ignite almost immediately, more so than the one that's watered and is live and healthy," Webb said.

The tree we used was healthy, meaning it has been watered regularly. Without that, it'd be a different story.

"With a dried out one, you light it, and instantaneously it'll flare up," Webb said.

We verified fake trees are the overall safer option. Webb said that's because most artificial trees these days are flame resistant.

If a fake tree doesn't quite capture the holiday spirit enough for you, Webb has some advice.

"Make sure it's still alive, it still has plenty of life, it's the greenest one as possible," he said.

So, choose wisely when deciding on your perfect tree.

The National Fire Association says Christmas tree fires often start from electrical problems like overloading electric sockets with lights and trees being too close to heat sources.


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