The warnings are often ignored and the fires happen. In fact, The Hartford insurance company reports more than 47 thousand fires happen during the winter holidays. Spokesman Jimmy Walker, a deputy fire chief in the Midwest, said that candles are the cause of about a third of those fires. His advice - keep the candles at least a foot away from flammable materials, keep them out of the reach of children and pets, and when you leave the room, blow 'em out! If that candle is near a window, make sure the window coverings and drapes can't move into the flame with a breeze.

He also said artificial trees can cause fires, but they usually have help. If you use a portable space heater, keep that heat source at least three feet away from your artificial tree or any other combustible item. And get rid of the old Christmas light strings. The new ones use less electricity anyway. The old ones can have old wires and old plastic coverings. Follow instructions with how many strings you can hook together. Don't take a chance. Finally, have your chimney inspected. The Bitterroot Valley ALWAYS has chimney fires each winter. Don't let it happen to your house.

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