HUGHESVILLE, Md. - Deputy State Fire Marshals have determined Christmas lights igniting dried needles in a Christmas tree was the cause of an early morning blaze that destroyed a home in Hughesville. Thomas and Lisa Wagner and their teenage son and daughter were able to escape the 3:40 a.m. fire in their two story, wood-frame home without injury. The blaze at 6411 Randle Drive caused an estimated $500,000 damage.
The investigation of the fire by Deputy State Fire Marshals revealed Ms. Wagner was sleeping on the sofa in the first floor living room of the home and was awakened by the sound of fire crackling inside the tree, also located in the living room. She quickly went upstairs to awaken her family. Unsuccessful attempts were made to extinguish the tree, and as fire rapidly spread, the family safely escaped.
Over thirty firefighters from Hughesville, Waldorf, Benedict, La Plata, Mechanicsville, and Dentsville EMS responded and were able to control the fire in fifteen minutes. There were no firefighter injuries. The American Red Cross along with relatives and friends in the area is assisting the family.
State Fire Marshal William E. Barnard urges all Marylanders to check the condition of natural holiday greenery and cut Christmas trees. As time passes, these decorative items dry out and are more readily ignited. If needles snap when bent, fall easily from branches, or the tree no longer absorbs water at the base, it is time for removal from the home.