Fire started by live Christmas tree destroys Cullman County home

CULLMAN COUNTY, Ala. - The community is joining together to help a family that lost everything in a Monday night fire.

The fire happened around 6 p.m. Monday at a home near County Road 622 in the Johnson's Crossing community near Hanceville.

Everyone in the Atchison family made it out of the flames and they're okay, but their home and their belongings are gone forever.

Billy Atchison tells his story saying he went to light a fire in their fireplace and the next thing he knew his living room floor flashed fire for a couple seconds, leading Atchison to believe there was a gas leak in his home.

In those two seconds, the family's real Christmas tree caught on fire.

"It can go up within seconds if it's dry. I've actually seen a video this morning that was on Facebook that they did a test and it was 30 seconds the whole room was engulfed in flames," said Albertville Fire and Rescue Chief Brad Hix.

With the holiday season upon us, many households will have Christmas trees that could pose as a safety threat if you don't keep up with them.

Hix says the most important thing is to remember to water your Christmas tree.

"Live trees or cut trees should be hydrated should be watered regularly. They tend to dry out, which makes a very flammable source," Hix said.

Atchison says his lessons learned include having a fire plan on where to meet once you get out of the house and making sure your fire extinguisher works. He's also said he doesn't recommend having a real tree in your home after his traumatic experience.

Atchison works for Sunbelt Fire, a company that supplies firefighting equipment. Sunbelt Fire and the Hanceville Fire Department set up a GoFundMe for the family that has already raised more than $11,000. You can donate here.

Hanceville Mayor Kenneth Nail was there with the Hanceville Fire Department and shot video of the fire on his phone. "Billy's a super nice fellow, and I hate that this happened," Nail said.