Christmas tree fire nearly guts Phoenix home as lights sparked flames

A fire gutted a house and forced four people to run for their lives -- and it all started with a Christmas tree.

Phoenix Fire Department officials say the cause of this fire is faulty Christmas lights. Bottom line: when you go to bed, make sure your lights are unplugged.

During a demonstration, firefighters showed us how fast a Christmas tree can catch fire. In seconds, it was a torch. The flames can devour a house. This very nearly happened to a home near 35th Avenue and Southern.

"Well, the neighbor came and knocked on neighbors' doors.. we got really scared," said Maria Alvarado.

The outside of the home is intact, but take a look at the damage inside. Rooms were nearly gutted by the dense smoke and flames.

Fire officials are not sure if the Christmas tree was real or artificial. The lights were left on and somehow, the wiring failed, resulting in the tree catching fire.

"We saw the kids climbing from the porch and we went to help them," said Alvarado. "They just woke up with a lot of smoke and the kids were crying and scared."

Neighbors banded together to help.

"We got some blankets and some shoes because they were barefoot.. it was really sad, she is a single mom," said Alvarado.

The mother and three children got out of the home. An 11-year-old had second-degree burns and is recovering. A working smoke detector saved their lives.

For neighbors, a lesson:

"We used to have the lights connected and we learned after what happened, we disconnected our tree.. important for us as parents to educate our children," said Alvarado.

This fire is yet another example of how important it is to have working smoke detectors. Make sure your batteries are good. Smoke detectors can save your life.