NEW PORT RICHEY (FOX 13) - For a New Port Richey family, this is a Christmas they would rather forget.
Investigators say their Christmas tree caught fire overnight, gutting their home on Cessna Drive.
Matthew Shaw and Joanne Morey got home from a Christmas Eve gathering around 2 a.m. Christmas morning.
They were tired and ready to jump into bed, but instead, they found their home was up in flames.
They saw what they thought was fog as they were pulling up, but realized it was smoke.
“Joann was extremely upset, crying, and Matt was pretty upset himself,” neighbor William Jackson told FOX 13 News.
Firefighters say it was a difficult fire to put out.
“Our biggest challenge is that this is an older community. There is no water here so we had to use tanker trucks to bring water in and out,” Pasco Fire Rescue Chief Shawn Whited said.
Eventually, firefighters got the upper hand and put the fire out.
Many times, investigators say they don’t have much to go on to determine the cause. In this case, the picture was pretty clear.
“All indications lead to this fire started with the Christmas tree,” Whited explained.
The tree had older lights on it.
Apparently, something shorted out, but they didn’t realize anything was wrong until they got home. By then, it was too late.
The take away from this: Don’t leave your tree lights on when you leave the house and make sure if you have a live tree to keep with watered really well.