National Fire Prevention Week got off to a rough start in Brownwood Monday morning as a house fire - which started when a child accidentally dropped a lit candle onto a mattress - displaced a family of five.

“This is why we do fire prevention,” Brownwood Fire Marshal Buddy Preston said.

The mid-morning fire heavily damaged the interior of a wood frame home at 1609 Second St. Laura Hernandez and her three children, ages 4, 2 and 1, made it safely outside after the fire started in a bedroom, family members said.

Hernandez’ husband, Elpidio Martinez, was working out of town in an oil field, relatives said.

A firefighter rescued five puppies who were in a milk crate in a laundry room, Preston said.

He said one of the children had been holding a candle that had been lit when electricity went out early Monday morning.

“(Hernandez) was in the kitchen fixing breakfast for the other two,” Preston said. “(The child) just dropped it.

“ … Last night with the electricity going out, there were a lot of candles burning.”

Brownwood firefighters are visiting area schools and day care centers this week as part of National Fire Prevention Week, talking with children about fire prevention. Firefighters had to leave Northwest and East elementary schools Monday morning to respond to the Second Street fire.

Terri Burross, interim executive director of the Pecan Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, said the agency is assisting the family with food, clothing and other items. The family will stay with relatives, she said.