AMERICAN INGENUITY is alive and well. Consider Richard Cawley, who had the misfortune eight years ago to watch his house burn down after his Christmas tree caught fire.

Mr. Cawley, a master electrician, decided to do something about it. As Reuters reported recently, Mr. Cawley invented a device that automatically detects Christmas tree fires by using a heat detector hidden under the tree's branches. The main Tree Safe unit is disguised as a Christmas present and sits under the tree; a sprayer at the top of the tree disperses a chemical fire suppressant, which can be vacuumed up later.Says Mr. Cawley: "Think about it: We take a dying tree into our homes, wrap 120 volts of electricity around it, and then plant that incendiary device in water."

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