SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — A glowing Christmas tree is one of the most special things about  the holidays. But if precautions are not taken, it can also be the cause of  tragedy for some residents.

Following two fires in the past two weeks in San Jose involving  Christmas trees, the fire department is issuing a checklist of safety  precautions for a smooth holiday season.

Trees should not be placed next to any source of ignition, such as  heaters, the fireplace, or candles.

After the holidays, trees should be removed from the house because  the dry leaves are easily ignitable, San Jose fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez said all lights should be inspected to make sure that  the bulbs are working and that wires are not worn or frayed.

Make sure only indoor lights are used inside the house, as outdoor  lights have a higher wattage, she said. Do not connect more than three light  strands together, which can overload the outlet.

Gutierrez said lights should be turned off when leaving the house  or going to bed.

Candles should be placed in a container so that they don’t fall  over, and it is important to extinguish them before leaving the room,  Gutierrez said. Pets should be kept away from candles and lights.

Plug space heaters directly into a wall and not into an electrical  outlet to avoid overload. It is best to use heaters that can automatically  shut off, Gutierrez said.

“Space heaters are a big cause of fires,” she said.

When cooking in the kitchen, remain alert to prevent cooking and  grease fires.

And finally, Gutierrez said it is important to have a working  smoke detector and have a fire extinguisher handy in the house.

On Monday, a family of six lost their home in the 3700 block of  Kauai Drive because their Christmas tree, which was next to the fireplace,  caught fire. The family was not injured, Gutierrez said.

On the afternoon of Dec. 13, a couple living at a home in a Willow  Glen neighborhood also had their tree go up in flames in their living room.

They were temporarily displaced because of smoke damage, but were  not injured. Gutierrez said the cause of that fire was likely a malfunction  involving the lights in the tree.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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