Christmas tree fire destroys area home

Sun staff writer|

un staff writer|A Christmas tree fire cost an Alachua County family their home early Wednesday.

Maria Porter said she woke up at about 1 a.m. to find smoke and flames in her single-story home at 4525 NW 129th St., west of Interstate 75. Lights on the tree had been left on.

“The Christmas tree caught on fire. The flames were going up. I got my son out and my daughter,” Porter said.

Flames licked at the tree in the living room and also were on the walls of the wooden home, Porter said. “I mean, it was awful. I've never been through something like that,” she said. “It was really fast.”

Firefighters were not able to save the house, Porter said. Fire destroyed the family's belongings including gifts that were under the tree.

The family, who was in contact with the American Red Cross after the blaze, is now staying in a guest house on their property. Porter said she's just grateful that she and her family escaped unharmed.

“We're alive and that's all that matters right now,” she said.

As for Christmas trees, she said it may be a long time before she has a lighted tree again.

Porter said the family bought the tree a week ago. It did not appear dry and was kept in water, she said.

Firefighters stress fire safety during the holidays because it's a time when many home fires occur. The combination of colder weather, holiday decorations and heaters lead to an increase in fires. They caution that trees should be discarded when they begin to rapidly lose needles, a sign that they are dry and easily combustible.

Lise Fisher can be reached at 374-5092 or