A FAMILY of nine have walked away from what a firefighter believes could have been the nation's worst tragedy this morning.
The family's Tweed Heads West house would have been burnt to the ground if it wasn't for a young child's urgency to use the bathroom.
"We believe a candle, which was acting as a night light, was the cause," Tweed NSW Fire and Rescue station officer Steve Sharp said when talking about the fire that destroyed a downstairs room at the house.
"One of the young children, who was sleeping in a room downstairs with another child, got up to use the bathroom and spotted the fire had spread to the bedside table.
"He raised the alarm."
The father of the children evacuated the Lalina Ave household which included his wife, five children under ten and two relatives living in the garage.
The man, 31, then raced down to start fighting the fire with a garden hose.
"He suffered burns to his body and smoke inhalation," station officer Sharp said.
"I don't know how badly he was burnt because he was gone when we got to the fire."
A spokeswoman for Northern NSW Local Health District said the man was in a stable condition and remained in Tweed Hospital.
It is understood the man's pants melted to his legs and he suffered burns to his right arm as well.
"It could have easily been such a great tragedy," station officer Sharp said.
"There were five children in the house between the ages of two to 10.
"They were all pretty resilient, bouncing around when we got there quite happily.
"They called me red head because of my red hat."
Station officer Sharp said one of the children sleeping in the downstairs room had soot around his nose, but seemed fine.
All of the children were assessed at the scene and transported to Tweed Hospital where they were found to be fine.
The Tweed Heads West house had no smoke alarms, which was concerning to station officer Sharp.
"This is the type of scenario as to why firefighters insist people get a smoke alarm," he said.
"They're inexpensive and will save your life."
If you are asleep and a fire breaks out in your room, you will remain in an unconscious state and smoke is unlikely to wake you.
Tweed-Byron duty officer Inspector Darren Steel said the fire was not being treated as suspicious.
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