An off-duty Santa Rosa firefighter is being credited for spotting a Petaluma house fire and alerting the occupants to the danger.

The fire reported at 5:32 p.m. Sunday started in the garage of the house on Tampico Court on the city's east side when a damaged electrical cord on a workbench heated up a plastic object, investigators found.

Santa Rosa firefighter Tony Camilleri was driving to dinner with his wife when he saw the smoke and went to investigate, Santa Rosa Battalion Chief Mike Jones said.

Camilleri found the garage on fire and the house darkened from a loss of power. No firefighters had arrived, Jones said.

Neighbors told him the residents could be inside, and the firefighter went into the home and found an adult and two children.

Everyone got out safely, officials said.

Petaluma firefighters, stationed just blocks away on McDowell Boulevard, got there within four minutes, according to dispatch records.

They found flames coming from the garage of the two-story home, Petaluma Battalion Chief Phil Sutsos said.

Cal Fire and Rancho Adobe firefighters helped fight the blaze. Firefighters had it under control in about 20 minutes and were at the house until about 9:15 p.m. to finish the job, Sutsos said.

Everything in the garage appeared to be destroyed, including a 1970s Cadillac. Heavy smoke and heat also damaged the house.

Sutsos estimated the fire caused as much as $200,000 damage.

Because all of Petaluma's on-duty firefighters were called to the fire, Wilmar, San Antonio and Lakeville firefighters came into Petaluma to cover the city's stations in case of other calls for help.

The visiting firefighters handled three calls for service.

You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or