A Coroner has found the fire that killed chef Matt Golinski’s wife and daughters in 2011, started near the Christmas tree.


 

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Matt Golinski’s wife, Rachel MacCracken, and children Sage and Willow, both 12, and Starlia, 10, died after becoming trapped in their Noosa home on Boxing Day morning in 2011.

The Coroner found the fire was likely started near or on the family’s Christmas tree.

The tree had been decorated with lights that ran to a four-outlet power board, and there was other electrical equipment nearby, the report stated.

The Coroner wrote, “I am unable to find that the fire was caused by candles, having regard to the fact that there was no evidence of candles burning in the vicinity of the Christmas tree on Christmas Day 2011.”

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reported there is an estimated annual average of 210 home structure fires that begin with Christmas trees.

Analysis also shows that although the number of Christmas tree fires is low, these fires represent a higher level of hazard. On average, 1 of every 9 Christmas tree fires resulted in a fatality compared to an average of one death per 75 non-confined home structure fires overall. Further, 49% of Christmas tree fires spread beyond the room of origin. The fires that spread beyond the room of origin caused 94 % of the associated fatalities.

A dry Scotch Pine Tree takes less than nine seconds to become fully involved in flames. Watch for yourself…

Please be safe this Christmas!

The NFPA warns:

  • Use lights that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory. Some lights are only for indoor or outdoor use.
  • Replace any string of lights with worn or broken cords or loose bulb connections. Read manufacturer’s instructions for number of light strands to connect.
  • Never use lit candles to decorate the tree.
  • Always turn off Christmas tree lights before leaving home or going to bed.

Share your thoughts below.

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  • I remember my Dad modifying some for a friend. They had like the outside of bells on them which were made of plastic. Fortunately the people realised that section was getting hot and weren’t going to use them any more. Their little ones were aware that they weren’t one but too young to understand why. Dad very carefully removed the decoration on the outside and tested them. They no longer got hot and the little girls were very happy. They only had them on for a couple of hours each night but that would have been enough to cause a fire had they left them on for much longer.

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  • Such a tragic and sad story and loss of life.

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  • A truly tragic story and a timely reminder about safety at this time of the year.

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  • I do remember this story and I think Xmas lights are a little different from other lights and can cause electrical faults quite easily . I turn all lights off when leaving home or when sleeping . Very sad story .


    • Christmas lights can be so dangerous and definitely need to be turned off at sleep times and monitored at other times.

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  • It’s a sad reminder that even the most innocent of activities can cause harm. It’s important to always anticipate what may happen and act accordingly. I have so much sympathy for Matt Golinski – such a heartbreaking loss.

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  • yeah so sad especially at this time of year.

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  • A very sed story. It teaches as to never leave christmas tree, candle or any appliances unattended.

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  • So sad about what happened to his family.

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  • This was such a tragedy. I do remember this fire and the loss of life and family for this man. I’m so pleased his body is healing, but this must be such a difficult time of year for him.

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  • So so sad. Imagine relating a Christmas tree to the death of your family

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  • Such a sad story ! A Christmas tree without light can be just as beautiful !! I just stay away from Christmas lights, we don’t have them in our home. Better safe then sorry.

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  • I’m happy to see Matt getting on with his life after such a tragedy. It’s always important NOT to overload power points or power boards, as well as NEVER leave lights on unattended

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  • Tragic story, timely reminder for us all at this time of year. Those christmas tree house fire statistics are an eye opener though.

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  • Christmas tree lights can be very dangerous, especially if they are used year on year and checked to make sure there are no shorts.

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  • We never leave our tree lights on when we go to bed. Don’t overload your power boards either. That can cause fires. I got told off many years ago when I WAS A NURSE IN THE CHILDRENS ward because I tactfully suggested to the charge sister that it might be a good idea to turn the lights off on the Christmas tree as it could overheat[ it was a silver tinsel like tree back in the 60’s] . She said I WAS INSOLENT AND NOT TO BE SO RIDICULOUS. After I went off duty the tree caught fire, the quick thinking night nurse stopped the fire by throwing a blanket over it etc. I have always remembered that!

    Reply

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