Unusual Christmas tree fire in Marysville likely caused by cats

by: Joanna Small Updated:

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MARYSVILLE, Wash. - Every year, there are Christmas tree fires, but one in Marysville is unusual for a number of reasons.

It was just like the scene out of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," but there was nothing funny about it.  

Bill Krause says his cats likely chewing on a string of lights is what caused their Christmas tree to explode in flames.

“The whole tree was engulfed, the couch was engulfed. Everything was engulfed,” said Bill, standing in his kitchen where Monday’s breakfast was still on the counter, covered in soot.

He said his girlfriend grabbed their infant son and yelled for the other two boys to get out of the house. 

It was Maryville firefighters who saved the cats with pet oxygen masks.

“When the cats came out, they were extremely critical, and over the next fifteen minutes they began to respond,” fire marshal Tom Maloney explained.

Tuesday Bill came back to assess the damage; practically everything in the dining room close to where the tree was standing was melted, burnt or in rubble. 

But Bill knows it could have been worse and firefighters agree.

"Christmas tree fires are common, especially if you have live trees,” Tom told us.

It's rather unusual to have a fake tree go up in flames, and this one blew out the front window—which allowed fire and heat to escape instead of spread through the house.

Fortunately like the holiday classic, this story has a happy ending too; insurance adjusters were there today.

"I can't wait to see it rebuilt,” Bill said of the portion of his home destroyed.

Firefighters do have some tips to prevent this: Make sure you buy lights with UL on the box. 

That’s Underwriters Laboratory and means they've been inspected. 

Also, check your strands often—especially if you have animals—to make sure they aren't frayed.