Kids burn the darndest things.

A four-year-old Santa Maria resident has his sister to thank after she extinguished a small blaze he began while his parents were away. The boy allegedly set fire to a mattress Thursday while playing with matches in his family’s Santa Maria home in a trailer park at 1380 W. Main St. His 14-year-old sister doused the fire before firefighters arrived.

The boy apparently got his hands on some matches that he had seen his father use many times to light a barbecue, Santa Barbara County Fire Dept. Spokesman Charlie Johnson said. He took them to an outdoor shed where he accidentally ignited a mattress. Flames then spread to other contents of the room.

“A four-year-old is perfectly capable of striking a match or pulling the trigger on one of those battery powered lighters,” Johnson said. “Children are curious; given the opportunity they’ll do it.”

Johnson said the boy ran back to his home where he told his sister about “a problem with the shed.”

Firefighters responded to the reported structure fire at 3:16 p.m., but the girl had already opened the door to the shed and doused the flames with a garden hose.