By Alex Schuman
State Fire Marshal Ray Reynolds said even he was surprised how fast a dry Christmas tree can go up in flames.
Reynolds set up two almost identical areas designed to look like living rooms outside the Oran Pape State Office Building downtown - both with a real Christmas tree.
"We tried to get everything as equal as possible so we that we could have a good test," said Gary Harman, owner of Walnut Ridge Tree Farms, who provided the trees.
They kept the trees in the same room and watered one daily while letting the other tree dry out.
The dry tree quickly turned into a blaze while it took fire fighters multiple tries to start up the watered one. And once the tree did start, it only charred a few branches.
"I am shocked," said Reynolds. "I wasn't aware that after three weeks there's a big difference."
The Fire Marshal suggests watering the tree daily and keeping the tree away from any flames or heat sources.
"Within an hour or two of when they put the tree up use warm water the first time, and then use hot water after that," said Harman.
Reynolds does not want people to let the fear of a fire keep them from continuing their tradition and plans to bring a freshly cut tree like this one into his house this weekend.