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      Officials: Holiday decorating increases fire risks

      Those same holiday decorations many have come to love and cherish may also increase the risk of fire, according to fire officials.

      The Amarillo Fire Department said electric lights, candles and Christmas trees can prove to be especially dangerous.

      Each year, according to data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), about 240 home fires involve Christmas trees. About 150 home fires are caused because of holiday lights.

      Collectively, statistics show those fires result in 21 deaths and $25.2 million in direct property damage.

      Holiday t i ps from the Amarillo Fire Department:-- Don't put your live Christmas tree up too early or leave it up for longer than two weeks. -- Place trees away from heat sources, including fireplaces or heat vents. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. -- Keep the live tree stand filled with water at all times. -- Use only nonflammable decorations.-- Don't link more than three light strands, unless the directions indicate it's safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet.-- Avoid using lit candles; consider using battery-operated flameless candles, which can look, smell and feel like real candles-- Ensure that Christmas trees and other holiday decorations don't block an exit way.

      For more tips, click here.