ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Christmas Day has come and gone, but many people may still have a Christmas tree sitting at home.

They’re images many Marylanders will never forget, an Annapolis mansion going up in flames in January 2015.

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The fire trapped and killed Donald and Sandra Pyle, along with their four grandchildren.

What fueled the fire? Their Christmas tree, according to investigators.

It was a tragic lesson that still remains true to this day. Officials are now reminding residents to dispose of their trees.

“Having a dry Christmas tree is like having, inviting a forest fire into your home,” Captain Erik Kornmeyer of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department said.

“Once they dry out, it’s just like having a match in your living room,” Daniel Scotten of the Anne Arundel County Fire Department added.

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Captain Kornmeyer said Christmas trees sold out early this year, some even before Thanksgiving.

“If you think about it, your Christmas tree was cut down sometime in November,” he said.

But, how do you know if your tree is ready to throw out?

“What you want to do is rub your hand against the tree, and if needles start to fall off, it’s dry and ready to go,” Kornmeyer said.

Every year, 200 fires are started by Christmas trees nationwide. 

“One out of 31 of those will result in a fire death,” Kornmeyer said.

While the holiday spirit can continue, it may be time for your tree to go.

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“It’s time to get rid of your Christmas tree, it’s drying out,” Captain Kornmeyer added.

Annie Rose Ramos