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Pembroke Christmas tree burns after skirting overheats
Pembroke Christmas tree burns
Pembroke’s Christmas tree was destroyed after burlap skirting underneath got overheated and caught fire Tuesday night. Pembroke Downtown Development Authority Executive Director Renee Hernandez said the DDA is setting up a Gofundme account to help pay for a new tree. Photo provided

A Tuesday night fire may have damaged Pembroke’s Christmas tree, but it hasn’t destroyed the city’s Christmas spirit. Pembroke Downtown Development Association Executive Director Renee Hernandez said Wednesday the DDA is establishing an account on the fundraising website to replace the tree, which was lit in a ceremony Saturday night and destroyed by the fire Tuesday.

Hernandez announced the incident in a post Tuesday night on the DDA’s Facebook page.

“Tonight, the Christmas Tree in Downtown Pembroke caught fire,” she wrote. “Thanks to Officer Mizell, who spotted the fire, and the quick response by the fire department, the damage did not spread to the PD building.”

Hernandez said later footage from a surveillance camera at a nearby business showed the fire wasn’t a criminal act. Instead, burlap skirting at the bottom of the tree got overheated and caught fire.

In her social media post, Hernandez called the fire, “a sad day for the DDA and for the street department, as they put in so much work to create this tree each year.”

Then, she hit a positive note, adding there’s a lesson to be learned from the fire.

“BUT, let’s all take this as a reminder to check our own Christmas lights and trees for potential hazards. Water your trees, ensure all sockets have bulbs, keep loose fabrics away from the tree, and don’t overload outlets. Be safe! Love to all.”

In an email sent out late Wednesday afternoon from the North Bryan Chamber of Commerce, Hernandez provided more information.

“After only three days on display, our twinkling tree sustained significant fire damage. Though we are saddened by the loss of this annual fixture in our Downtown, we are looking to 2021 with positive spirits and high hopes and are beginning the journey to our holiday display replacement,” it read.

“We would like to move forward with changing our Christmas Tree to a style that does not use skirting. Commercial grade Christmas decorations are extremely expensive and, with fundraising events/ activities halted due to COVID, the Downtown Development Authority of Pembroke simply cannot replace our display without generous help from outside sources. Can you help us bring the twinkling lights of Christmas magic back to downtown Pembroke?

“Yes, we had sticker shock ourselves, when we began researching replacement options. But if you consider the population of Pembroke is approximately 2500, that’s about a $4.40 donation per person to achieve this amazing goal. Even less if businesses and folks from surrounding areas contributed.

“For those of you that can donate and help spread the word, thank you from the bottom of our Downtown Christmas loving hearts! ~Renee~” “Donors will be memorialized on a plaque that will be placed on display at the tree each Christmas season, forever a part of Pembroke’s history.”

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