To Teach Americans a Lesson, the US Government Set Fire to a Few Christmas Trees

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Burn, baby, burn.

Assuming your Christmas tree isn’t made of plastic, you’d better be watering it. At least, assuming you don’t want your house to burn down within seconds.

To show just quickly a tree fire can engulf your living room, the National Institute of Standards and Technology did a demonstration with two Douglas fir trees. One had been properly watered, the other had been left to dry. Watch the video above to see what happened when they lit both with matchbooks.

Christmas-tree fires claim several lives each year. And the risk of fire doesn’t end when the holiday does, since so many people take a while to get rid of their trees. More than one-third of Christmas-tree fires happen in January, which is an important reminder to keep watering your tree as long as it’s in your house. And also nudge electrical appliances or candles to the other side of the room.