Christmas Eve fires calling attention to importance of fire safe - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

Christmas Eve fires calling attention to importance of fire safety

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HOLYOKE, MA (WSHM) -

A total of 17 people are homeless after houses in both Springfield and Holyoke caught on fire Christmas Eve.

Now fire officials have advice for families to keep in mind this holiday season.

The two homes were badly damaged leaving four families in two different cities searching for a temporary place to live.

"I kind of feel bad for the people who live in the apartments because Christmas is tomorrow and it's sad," said Alexy Rodriguez of Holyoke.

A two family home in Holyoke on Chestnut Street sustained $80,000 in damage and one person was even sent to the hospital. And it all happened after their Christmas tree caught on fire.

Nearby in Springfield, a two family home on Northampton Avenue quickly became engulfed by flames, leaving nine people, including five children, homeless.

The cause of that blaze is still under investigation.

"During the holiday season it's a great time for family, there are a lot of distractions because everyone is seeing family again," said Lt. Thomas Paquin of the Holyoke Fire Department.

He says there are ways to keep your family safe during the holidays when lights burn for hours and family becomes a top priority.

  • Don't use old wiring or Christmas tree lights
  • Use LED lights, they tend to burn cooler
  • Don't run extension cords under carpeting or near trees
  • Continually water your Christmas tree so it doesn't dry out
  • Never put candles anywhere near your tree

"You really want to be aware of your surroundings," Paquin said.

Neighbors who live near the fires said it hits close to home.

"I have a Christmas tree I don't want it to catch on fire while I'm sleeping or something," Rodriguez said.

And they said it is especially heartbreaking watching friends lose so much around the holidays.

"It's sad definitely because it's the day before Christmas and they're losing everything," said Tiara Davis of Springfield.

Fire officials are still investigating the cause of the Springfield fire.

An arson squad is still working to figure out exactly how the Christmas tree in Holyoke ignited.

The Red Cross is assisting those who were displaced.

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