Rockville

Rockville Apartment Complex Bars ‘Real' Christmas Trees

The apartment complex cites fire risks with real trees and says "use of artificial trees, however, is highly encouraged"

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News4’s Shomari Stone reports that residents are urged to forgo real trees for safety reasons at one Rockville apartment complex.

Some residents in a Rockville apartment complex are forbidden from bringing “real,” live Christmas trees home this year.

They'll have to opt for artificial trees to get in the holiday spirit.

According to residents, management at the Escher Apartments says it's aiming to cut down on potential fire hazards.

The complex put up signs that say: “Real trees are not allowed in the building.”

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“The use of artificial trees, however, is highly encouraged,” a photo of the sign reads.

Escher Apartments resident Bernardo Longueira says Christmas is his favorite holiday and every year he hosts family to take photos in front of his real tree.

He says he was shocked by the management’s notice.

“I’ve been living there for almost four years and this is actually the first time this happened,” he said.

Longueira says he respects the rule at his complex, but he’ll celebrate the holiday season elsewhere this year.

“I think I’m going to just spend Christmas with my parents. They’re going to put a real tree here,” Longueira said.

News4 is waiting for the building managers to return our phone calls.

Some residents say they welcome the rule because real trees are a potential fire hazard.

Christmas trees are the starting point for 160 home fires a year on average, with dry trees, candles and lighting equipment involved in many of the blazes, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

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Longueira told News4 that one reason he likes buying real trees is to support local farmers, charity organizations and volunteer fire departments.

The Rockville Volunteer Fire Department is selling real trees this year.

“If you take care of it, you can have a fine, safe, holiday season and that’s what we recommend,” Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Fire Rescue spokesman, said.

Firefighters also recommend you:

  • Use a wide-based stand to make sure the tree is secure and will not fall over.
  • Keep your tree in a container full of water and check the water level daily.
  • Keep the tree away from heat sources including fireplaces, radiators, space heaters and heating vents. There should be at least three feet of space, officials say.
  • Never burn Christmas tree branches, treated wood or wrapping paper in your fireplace.