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.

DJ's River Discoveries

The 2,215 pounds of trash DJ Woodbury pulled from the Petaluma River included:

- 17 syringes

- two TV monitors

- two tires

- hundreds of tennis balls

- thousands of bottles and cans