VIRGINIA

Fire destroys special family home in Sterling

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STERLING, Va. (WJLA) - Matt and Tina Simms walk through the charred, wet remains of what used to be their Sterling home. On Monday, an improperly discarded cigarette caused their six-bedroom house to go up in flames.

"It's all gone...Once this whole area caught on fire, it caught this on fire and then poof," the couple explains.

But what makes this situation even more complicated is that Tina, Matt, and their two children are all little people – this house had been completely adjusted to accommodate their stature.

"The toilet, the kitchen, the bathroom faucets, everything -- the light switches, everything was altered to our height," says Tina.

"This was our dream," adds Matt. "We were living the dream...Now my dream is gone."

This has been the family’s home for a dozen years, and a second mortgage was taken out to pay for the retrofitting. It will take at least a year now to rebuild, and the Simms do not know where they’ll stay.

"We're having to live in a hotel right now and nothing in the hotel is accessible to us. Even with step stools I can't get up to the sink to brush my teeth. I can't even reach it," says Tina.

The community has set up a fundraising website to raise money and help get the family back on its feet. An immediate need, however, is a new pediatric wheelchair for their 13-year-old daughter.

Friends are lending a hand where they can, knowing the adversity the family faces is overwhelming.

"My life is easy compared to being 3' 2" tall. She's amazing," says friend Barbara Anthony.

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