Plaintiff, Norma O'Neal, was interviewed for an article entitled "Christmas tree fires rare but destructive" which appeared on the front page of the Chattanooga Times Free Press on Saturday, December 17, 2011. Norma has only a small artifical Christmas tree on the table in her rental house this year, but it is the first Christmas tree she has had since her home burned down two years ago, just two weeks before Christmas 2009. The 2009 fire started at the Christmas tree she had just put up the night before. The article quotes Chattanooga Fire Department spokesman, Bruce Garner, who explains what can happen when a Christmas tree catches fire: " . . . it can be catastrophic. It generates an incredible amount of heat and flames in seconds." Although Norma won her case against Nationwide in November, with a jury verdict totaling $784,676, she has "yet to receive a dime" as Nationwide has filed for a new trial. Norma has lived in five different places in the past two years, including two motels, and the article concluded with her statement that "It has been a terrible ordeal."
The Hamilton Firm reminds everyone to be very careful with real Christmas trees. As beautiful as they are, they can explode like a firebomb inside your home, if the tree ever catches on fire. Keep the tree branches away from electrical outlets and unplug the lights from wall when the tree is unattended. Keep the tree far away from heaters and fireplaces. And, keep the water resovoir full.