BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Firefighters now say they know what caused that massive fire at the Annapolis Yacht Club last week.
Derek Valcourt explains the blaze is being blamed on a common holiday hazard.
Yet another fire caused by an electrical malfunction with an artifical pre-lit Christmas tree.
It took firefighters hours to get the flames at the Annapolis Yacht Club under control. Though no one was seriously injured, damage estimates exceed $9 million.
“We know the fire was electrical in origin,” said Annapolis Fire Department Chief John Bowes.
Bowes said the cause of the fire was an electrical malfunction with an artificial pre-lit Christmas tree inside the building. Authorities warn the decorations on artificial trees can be part of the problem.
“Somebody could easily put way too much combustible stuff on this tree thinking they’re safe when in fact they may not be,” Bowes said.
News of what caused the fire hit home in Anne Arundel County, where many are still grieving over a Christmas tree fire last holiday season that ripped through a mansion and claimed six lives.
In January, Donald and Sandy Pile and their four grandchildren couldn’t escape their 16,000 square foot home when their tree caught fire. It started in an outlet that was located underneath the tree, then spread to a Christmas tree skirt and then was fueled by the Christmas tree.
Though Christmas tree fires are rare, video of controlled burns show it only takes a matter of seconds for dried out real trees and some artificial trees to become fully engulfed. That’s why firefighters recommend extra caution. Check to see if your tree is fire-resistant; inspect pre-lit trees for frayed or cracked electrical wiring; don’t overload electrical outlets and keep the tree away from any heat source.
Firefighters say because they are such hazards, Christmas trees shouldn’t be left up too long after the holiday and your real tree should come down as soon as it starts dropping needles.
Annapolis Yacht Club’s owners have vowed to rebuild the historic facility.