Michelle Southern reporting.
Many religious fellowships throughout the state will engage in "candlelight services" this Christmas, and the State Fire Marshal's Office is issuing guidelines to organizations who plan to utilize candles this season. Marshal Butch Browning says folks need to understand that there's a possibility for tragedy regarding the use of open flames in assemblies.
"And if you're going to be in churches and synagogues where you load a lot of people in," said Browning. "You need to be very careful about not having so many candles lit that it could set something on fire."
The National Fire Protection Association showed that in all 9,000 religious structure fires from 2007-2011, more than 350 were directly attributed to the use of candles. Browning says stationary candles should be on a strong base so that they don't tip over in large crowds.
"If they are going to be held, have them in some type of deflector or tray where the hot wax or burning embers would not fall onto something that could burn," said Browning.
Browning says candles should never be issued to young children. He says it just takes one second for a flame to be dropped during a crowded ceremony and somebody's clothes catch on fire.
"Some of your light clothing is very very combustible, and an instant touch of an open flame they burn rapidly," said Browning. "Children should never handle candles."