Several people were inside the home, owned by Bonnie Lucille Tabler and Anthony Boyer, when the fire started, he said.
The fire was discovered by Tabler's grandchildren, who were watching television in the living room and noticed smoke coming in under the door to outside, said Tabler's daughter, Bonnie Jean Tabler.
The children opened the door and saw the porch was on fire, said Tabler, who said she was napping with her 3-year-old daughter at the time. The children came and roused her, she said.
"I was going to try to put it out, but I wanted to get the kids out first," said Tabler, who had grabbed a fire extinguisher in hopes of saving her home.
The wind was spreading the fire so quickly, Tabler said, that by the time she got her three children, her niece and her disabled mother out of the home, it was too late.
"We lost everything," Tabler said. "We didn't even have shoes on our feet."
Still, while she lost her home and all her belongings, Tabler said she counts herself lucky for having gotten her family out safely.
"That's all that matters right now," she said.
The fire spread over the lawn around the home, destroying a large shed, playground equipment and trees in the yard, Robinson said.
Sparks from the fire scorched the porch area of a neighboring mobile home, destroying some plants, and the heat melted some of its skirting, he said.
The persistent wind kept firefighters at the scene for about four hours dousing the smoldering remains of the home, its furnishings and mulch in the yard, and making sure sparks didn't spread to other homes, he said.
Whoever threw the cigarette into the mulch probably thought it was out, he said.
People need to be especially careful discarding cigarettes, which may appear to be out but actually retain enough heat to eventually start a fire, Robinson said.
Local motels offered to shelter the family over the holiday weekend, and the American Red Cross and Salvation Army have offered their assistance, Robinson said.