Christmas Tree Arson Evacuates Building -- 'Tis the Season

Categories: Crime
Xmas tree on fire.jpg
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An arson fire using a Christmas tree as kindling led to a frantic evacuation of an apartment building in Potrero Hill. Nobody was injured, but it was an unpleasant 4:30 a.m. wakeup call for the residents at Connecticut and Wisconsin streets.

News reports stated that the Christmas tree ignited this morning was on the multi-unit building's front porch. If so, don't expect this to be the last opportunistically torched piece of holiday vegetation

As Christmas trees grow hip deep on city sidewalks next month, expect the inevitable. In January of this year, the San Francisco Fire Department told SF Weekly it was getting eight to 12 calls a day regarding burning trees.

"When somebody puts a match to one it goes up like a roman candle," Pat Gardner, the SFFD's deputy chief of operations, said at the time. He compared a dry Christmas tree's rapid ignition to an explosion. "When those stacks of trees six, eight, or 10 high go up, it looks like a whole house is burning down."

Gardner suggested leaving a tree outdoors only just before its pickup date, or driving it directly to recycling centers. Yes, that's quite a schlep. But perhaps the fear of arsonists -- and the Christmas spirit -- could be a motivating factor.

Of course, that may not have dissuaded a man who, in 2008, was busted lighting a Christmas tree ablaze in the middle of a North Beach street. When police apprehended him, he purportedly told the officer, "Why can't poets light a Christmas tree on fire? It's making a statement."

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