CORTE MADERA -- An explosion and fire that may have been sparked by a Toyota Prius charging in a garage damaged a two-story condominium in Corte Madera and killed a cat Tuesday evening, a fire official and a resident said.

It is believed that the fire at 44 Creekside Court, which was reported at 6:25 p.m., was sparked by a problem with the Prius' electrical charging system, Corte Madera Fire Chief Roger Sprehn said.

An explosion occurred, resulting in a fire that spread from the garage to the first and second floors of the condo, Sprehn said.

The blaze was controlled in about 30 minutes. Damage to the structure and contents is estimated at $250,000. The garage was burned by the flames, but the living area of the condo sustained mostly heat and smoke damage, Sprehn said.

Ronald Gremban, who lives in the condominium with his domestic partner Lynne McAllister, said this morning that he was not home at the time of the fire.

McAllister was at home but escaped the blaze safely, Gremban said.

One of the couple's two cats died in the fire, and the other is not yet accounted for, Gremban said.

The condo is uninhabitable, he said.

Twenty firefighters from Corte Madera, Larkspur, Kentfield, Tiburon, San Rafael and Southern Marin responded to the blaze, Sprehn said.



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