Christmas Up in Flames?!

I recently watched a quick news clip about a thief who tried to descend into a house in the U.S. through the chimney and he got stuck. The owner of the house lit a fire, (I wonder if he knew there was someone in the chimney) and the thief died, probably of smoke inhalation, if not literally getting cooked. To extract the body, rescuers had to break open the chimney from the outside of the house. Seriously. Yipes.

But our own Christmas could have literally gone up in flames yesterday. We had purchased 10 strands of new LED lights (I have resisted LED’s until recent versions which don’t seem so harshly bright) from a reputable department store and the crew had installed our Christmas tree while we were away on a trip. It looked fantastic on our arrival. We had also managed to wrap most of our crew presents and the tree was picture perfect. So yesterday, I was in the kitchen cooking up a storm when I heard a loud bang and what sounded like sparks and instinctively ran to the living room and the Christmas tree. Between thoughts of “where the hell is the fire extinguisher” and “OMG, all the presents could be incinerated, not to mention the house, which is only a rental, I rationalized, all in a split second, but we are well-insured, I think…” we found the set of lights that had exploded and ignited and there were puffs of smoke. We managed to turn everything off, the crew moved all the stuff in seconds and a potential disaster was averted. Yipes. Imagine if we had left the lights on when no one was nearby? I googled and it turns out that several hundred homes burn down each year in the U.S. alone due to christmas lights igniting. Double Yipes!

With so little time to futz around, we had to remove all 782 ornaments on the tree (we counted because someone asked me last year how many ornaments I thought we had on our tree), take off all the remaining dubious strings of lights), go to another more reputable department store and buy 10 more strings of now more expensive (and hopefully less incendiary) LED lights and trim the tree all over again! So the moral of the story is to be careful this and all holiday seasons, because those darned christmas lights could turn your presents and home into coal… :(


17 Responses

  1. I would not have lit the fireplace. A well remembered lesson that still haunts me come Christmastime from the Three Little Pigs episode from oh so long ago where they assumed who was coming down the chimney was the big bad wolf… httpss://

  2. I hope you take the original lights back to the store you got them from, or at the very least, let the manufacturer know what happened. For all you know, those lights are on a recall list, or should be!

  3. Good to know you greeted Advent with a literal bang.

    Despite appearances to the contrary, regulatory approvals in the Philippines are dicey at most. Paperwork to submit there’s a mountain of, yes, but actual safety regulations are blurry and chockful of red-tape on the one hand, and loosely implemented with the right pang-merienda on the other.

    It’s really up to us to buy the right products to protect out own property. And lastly, never leave them overnight. Unplug them.

    Strings of blinking lights linked with dicey wiring nesting on highly flammable, toxic materials. This is why our Christmas days are always merry and bright.

  4. Even though we have Christmas lights spun around our tree we only leave it on rarely such as on Christmas day itself, New Year’s Day and when we have guests. We also never leave the Christmas lights decorating the exterior of our house on overnight.
    From what I know, most of the Christmas light fires that happen in the US is caused by the Christmas tree becoming highly flammable when the pine needles starts to brown and die. Any minor malfunction or spark in the lights would turn the tree into a bonfire.

  5. you pay for the quality of things you get…not all the time but when it comes to LEDs…the cheaper ones are usually the UNreliable ones…..lessson learned. good thing no one was hurt…Merry safe Christmas to you and your family.

  6. OMG! I’m glad you are all safe. It’s winter here in the US and we have a lot of housefires from lights, space heaters, etc. Thanks for sharing your story as it makes us aware that these pretty little lights can harm us if we are not careful.

  7. That was close! I never turn on our Christmas lights unless we are there and only for 2-3 hours. And for exterior lights,I had a string of big colored light bulbs assembled with thick electric wires. Everyone: be safe this holiday season.

  8. Glad to know you and family and staff are all safe. A joyous Christmas to the Marketman family and staff!

  9. “With so little time to futz around, we had to remove all 782 ornaments on the tree (we counted because someone asked me last year how many ornaments I thought we had on our tree)…” >> This is so you. Haha, natawa ako. Malakas. Sa office.

    I haven’t done a STITCH of shopping and am seriously thinking of camping out in Megamall on Saturday am and try to run through a list and get the essentials.

  10. As kids in the tropics we did not only see the built-in irony of dreaming of a white Christmas but also of dashing through the snow, if not Jack Frost nipping at your nose. Only goes to show how pervasive American media’s hold among young Filipino minds was at the middle of the last century. No use denying, it has become part of our collective memory now.

    Here’s is an iconic rendering of an iconic Christmas song, iconically animated: httpss://



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