A Mendocino County family escaped injury when their cat awoke them early Tuesday, alerting them to a fire burning in their home, Redwood Valley Fire Chief Tom Hession said Wednesday.

The 12:15 a.m. fire on Ellen Lynn Street, about a half mile from Highway 101, appeared to have started in a garage converted into a utility/storage room, Hession said. Investigators were looking into the possibility that it was electrical in origin, he said.

Renter Nate Armstrong, his partner and their 11-year-old son were sleeping when their cat jumped on the bed, awakening them before the smoke alarm sounded, Hession said.

Flames gutted about half of the three-bedroom home. The remainder had extensive heat and smoke damage, he said.

Friends and relatives helped the family members salvage what they could Tuesday and find emergency housing, Hession said.