Bob Widmann, pastor of Sunnyside's Cornerstone Assembly of God Church, has issued a safety alert.
Widmann says it appears the Douglas Fir Christmas trees his church sold in Sunnyside may be a fire hazard. Approximately 200 of the Douglas Firs were purchased by local residents.
Complaints have been rolling in that the trees have dried up and their needles are falling off, making them a fire hazard.
Widmann said the only explanation he can offer is that the recent cold snap may have freeze-dried the trees. Once they were taken from the outside Christmas tree lot and placed inside a warm home, he's guessing the change in temperatures shocked the trees, causing them to die and lose their needles.
Church members sold two other varieties of trees at their lot in front of the former Food Pavilion building on Yakima Valley Highway, but it appears those trees pose no danger.
"It seems to be only the Douglas Firs that are affected," said Widmann.
"My main concern is the safety of those families who purchased a Douglas Fir from our lot," Widmann said. He's advising all of those customers to carefully check the trees, and if they appear to be drying out or are losing their needles, to remove the trees from their homes and discard them.
"Of course, anyone who's ended up with one of these trees will be reimbursed," Widmann added. He said there were no records kept of the names of the people who bought the trees, but trusts only those who purchased one of the Douglas Firs from the church lot will seek reimbursement.
Those customers who want their money refunded can contact Widmann at 830-3697.