[symple_googlemap title=”” location=”5400 block of Clydebank Avenue, Azusa, CA” height=”300″ zoom=”13″]

Updated at 12:41 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2015

A fire apparently started by an unattended candle burning near a dried-out Christmas tree gutted an Azusa home early Tuesday, displacing five people but causing no injuries.

The fire in the 5400 block of Clydebank Avenue was reported about 2:20 a.m. and knocked down by 30 firefighters in 44 minutes, said Kyle Sandford, a county fire department dispatch supervisor.

A candle burning near a brittle Christmas tree apparently started the fire, county fire Inspector Rick Flores said. Damage to the home was estimated at $400,000 and damage to its contents at $100,000, he said.

Resident David Branch told Fox11 that the family heard “a loud popping noise, in the middle of the night.”

“When I got up to see what it was, the house was covered in smoke,” Branch said.

Branch said the family kept the Christmas tree up beyond the holiday season because his youngest son “loves Christmas.”

“He loved looking at the lights every single night, and we (had) planned on taking it down — we took down the outside lights — we just didn’t do the inside lights yet,” Branch said. “Now, you can say we definitely regret it.”

County Fire Chief Daryl Osby took the opportunity to declare the obvious — remove dry and brittle Christmas trees — and make sure fire detectors are installed and operational.

“We’re now into the second week of the new year, so any Christmas trees still set up inside homes presents a serious fire danger,” Osby said. “This fire could have been prevented. This is a terrible way for the family to start the new year.”

Osby said 70 percent of house fires occur in homes without a working smoke detector.

—Staff and wire reports

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