by Nick Lawton
ODESSA - An Odessa family is speaking out after losing their home in a fire over the weekend. Firefighters now know what sparked it.
The Smith family told NewsWest 9 their children had been playing with matches and one match didn't quite go out as it hit the floor of their bedroom.
It's a bigger problem than people may think.
The fire that left the Smith family homeless on Sunday was the kind that West Texans can prevent.
One lit match, even if accidentally left on the floor, can cause widespread damage and this fire was one of many.
Odessa firefighters say just this year, six homes have burned and six families have been displaced because of mishandled matches and lighters.
"Those are things that are so preventive," Odessa Fire Marshal Detra White said.
The Smith family's smoke detectors were also disabled after their batteries died. They say they had planned on replacing them, but never found the time.
Firefighters say sometimes the smallest precautions can have the biggest benefits.
"It could be the difference between life and death," White said. "Without a working smoke detector, the room could be fully involved. The fire most recently had progressed tremendously by the time they discovered that a fire had occurred in the bedroom."
"This went up really fast," homeowner Scott "Jim Scott" Smith, said. "I wasn't gone 15 minutes. And when I got back, it wasn't just smoking. There was flames shooting out of this like a blowtorch."
The Smith's said they never saw it coming.
Fire Marshal White said every family faces the difficulty of getting too comfortable and forgetting that a fire can happen anytime.
"Older children need to be more conscientious about what they're doing. If it's a fire, then it can cause great devastation to their homes," White explained.
The Smith family is OK, but they lost a cat in the flames.
The Red Cross is helping them with shelter and other supplies, and family friends and their church are pitching in too.
Now they are urging others to give themselves a fighting chance against fires.
"You never know what childish thing you do that can have huge repercussions," Smith said. "There was no intent here, there was no maliciousness. It's just, stuff happens."