The quick thinking of a Santa Barbara police officer patrolling the city's Westside early Wednesday morning contained a fire "that could have easily been a lot worse," according to fire crews who responded to the scene.
Just before 3:30 a.m., Officer Kendal Russell was patrolling in the Westside neighborhood on an unrelated call when she smelled smoke in the area, according to Sgt. Riley Harwood of the Santa Barbara Police Department.
Russell was able to locate the source of the smoke to a home in the 600 block of West Pedregosa Street, where deck steps leading to the back of the home were on fire.
"She knocked on the door of the home and a resident responded and they were able to put out the fire," Harwood said, adding that Russell and the home's residents knocked down the fire with a garden hose.
Subsequently, Santa Barbara City Fire crews responded to the home with three engines, a ladder truck and a battalion chief, and when they arrived, they made sure the fire had been completely put out, according to a statement from the department.
"A fire investigator was called to the scene and he determined that the fire was caused by discarded smoking materials," the statement said, adding that residents should properly extinguish and dispose of all smoking material, especially in the dry and windy weather.
"This was a very close call, and thanks to Officer Russell the situation could have easily been a lot worse," the statement said.