Sunday, October 2, 2022

That Christmas tree has probably become a fire hazard by now. Here’s how to get rid of it

(WYDaily File Photo)
(WYDaily File Photo)

It might seem too soon to start taking down that Christmas tree, but if it was bought the week of Thanksgiving, you’ve had your tree for going on six-weeks now or long enough for it to become a fire hazard.

Anthony Chittum, battalion chief for the Hampton Fire and Rescue Division, said even if it’s watered daily, the department recommends now as a good time to get those Christmas trees out of the home.

“Unless you chopped the tree down yourself you don’t know how long it’s been cut and that is an issue,” he said. “Every day those trees are dying and really at this point, those trees should be removed from your home.”

Chittum referred to a video recently posted on the division’s social media pages showing how quickly a fire can spread from a dry Christmas tree to a living room.

There’s no predetermined length of time to have a tree in the home but Chittum said if pine needles break in half when they’re grabbed, it’s a sign that the tree is dry and a hazard.

HRGreen recommended ways to reuse dried pine needles but also said localities typically collect old trees and wreaths to be mulched or composted.

“The mulch or compost material created from the trees is a low cost way for your city or county to maintain parks and shared green spaces right in your community. Some localities are even able to sell excess mulch or compost back to the public,” spokespeople said on the website.

To ensure trees can be collected, HRGreen said residents should remove all ornaments, lights, decorations, and tree stands before setting them out for collection or taking them to the appropriate facilities, “only the natural parts of your trees and wreaths can be accepted for mulching and composting,” they said.

Here’s when cities on the Peninsula are collecting Christmas trees or where to drop them off:

York County

York County’s free Christmas tree curbside collection program begins Monday, Jan. 6, and continues through Friday, Jan. 10.  Residents must place their tree at the roadside by 7 a.m. on Monday for collection during the week.

This program is available to all county communities, including those that do not subscribe to the county’s curbside collection programs. In order to provide this service to those communities not on a curbside collection program, the county’s Waste Management division requires:

  • Approval from your Homeowners Association or community management group.
  • A designated drop-off site within your community where residents can bring their trees.
    • The designated site needs to be in a location with access to the large knuckle boom truck used for collections.

In addition to curbside collection, all York County residents, including non-subscribers, may deliver their Christmas trees to the VPPSA Compost Facility, 145 Goodwin Neck Road, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

  • Trees must not be placed in tree bags.
  • All lights, tinsel, and ornaments must be removed.
  • Trees must be placed without a tree stand.
  • Trees larger than 6’ should be cut in half.


City crews are collecting Christmas trees for recycling on Monday, Jan. 6 and Monday, Jan. 13. Remove all decorations such as lights, tinsel, and ornaments, and place it at the street before 7 a.m. for collection.

James City County

Residents can recycle Christmas trees for free through Jan. 31 at County Convenience Centers located at 117 Tewning Road, 1204 Jolly Pond Road, and 185 Industrial Boulevard from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Trees will be picked up at curbside on regular trash collection day. See the full collection schedule here. 

The tree should be free of the stand, ornaments, tinsel, and lights. Place natural trees separate from bulk waste and regular trash. Do not put in a bag or put netting around it. Artificial trees should not be placed with leaves, grass or tree branches.

Residents can also bring naturally grown trees to be recycled at the Yard Waste Transfer Site, 100 North Park Lane, Monday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Newport News

Newport News will collect Christmas trees via the city’s curbside bulk collection recycling program. See the full collection schedule here.

You can also drop off the tree to the Recovery Operations Center on 520 Atkinson Way.

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