CHRISTMAS can go up in flames if proper care is not taken.

This is the warning from fire chiefs to people in Ludlow and south Shropshire.

A vivid and chilling film of a Christmas tree rapidly burning with fierce flames enveloping a room in less than a minute is a stark fire safety warning, says Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.

But it’s not the only danger, with blazes often starting in the kitchen and being the most likely start of a house fire, reveals Shropshire Fire Safety Officer Alison Teece.

Shropshire firefighters were called out to 450 incidents in December last year which included many car collisions, numerous chimney fires, and kitchen fires involving cookers, microwaves and tumble dryers.

A family of four were rescued by firefighters from their smoke logged property on New Year’s Day after a neighbour called 999 on hearing a smoke alarm triggered when fire broke out in the kitchen caused by unattended cooking.

In another house blaze just before Christmas a woman suffering from smoke inhalation was given oxygen by firefighters after a cooker fire in her kitchen.

“To ensure you have the merriest of Christmases, keep fire safety at the top of your list,” said Ms Teece.

“We are asking people to take extra care over the festive season to ensure that their families and loved ones are protected from fire.”

The Government’s Fire Kills film on YouTube shows how quickly fire from a dry Christmas tree caused by faulty lights devastates a living room in just 52 seconds. More film footage shows a well-watered tree burning at a much slower rate.

Fire safety warnings include a message to check Christmas lights, unplug them at night, and not to let children play with them.

Candles should be avoided but if used they should be in suitable holders and away from curtains while decorations, cards and tinsel must be well away from a fire or heat source.

Care should also be taken with portable heaters and open fires.

People should always make sure that there is at least one properly working smoke alarm on each level.