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17 December 2014, 12:00
Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) is issuing an urgent safety warning following a fire involving a Christmas tree.
RBFRS received a call to a three-storey detached house in Green Road, Reading at around 20:47 on 16 December. Four crews - from Wokingham Road, Whitley Wood, Dee Road and Wokingham - attended and were faced with a severe fire on the ground floor of the property.
The householders' real fir Christmas tree, which was in the living room, had been decorated with lit candles. The fire started after one of the candles fell off, setting the tree alight, and the fire then quickly spread throughout the house.
Fortunately, all of the occupants had managed to get out of the property safely before the crews arrived. However, a woman was given oxygen therapy by firefighters before being treated by the ambulance service at the scene.
The fire caused significant damage to the house, with 100% of fire damage to the ground and first floors, 30% of fire damage and 70% of smoke damage to the second floor.
Station Manager Steve Beard, who attended the incident, said: "This incident caused severe damage to the property and the family were incredibly lucky to escape without serious injuries.
"We all like to decorate our homes to make them look festive at this time of year but it is essential to remember that, although they look pretty, candles are still naked flames and must be used with caution. Once they have been cut down, Christmas trees become very dry and therefore can catch fire extremely easily.
"If you use candles, we strongly advise securing them in a proper holder and keeping them well away from anything flammable. Candles and Christmas trees do not mix - as this incident shows, fire can spread incredibly quickly and cause devastating damage."
RBFRS crews will be carrying out 'hot strike' visits today to provide fire safety advice and reassurance to householders in neighbouring properties.