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A fire destroyed the kitchen area of an east Salt Lake home Tuesday causing $200,000 damage and killing a family pet.

Flames erupted at 445 N. Virginia St. about 7:30 p.m., but "something had been smoldering in (the kitchen) for a long time," Salt Lake Battalion Chief Gordon Nicholl said."It's an ugly situation in there; damage is real, real heavy," Nicholl said.

Two family dogs were in the house when the blaze erupted. One escaped when firefighters knocked down the front doors but the other, in a different part of the home, died before firefighters could reach it.

More than 20 firefighters worked to control the blaze, using axes and a chainsaw to knock holes in the roof for ventilation.

The owners of the house stood nearby.

"We've been here since 1964. We built it," Brenton Pack, the homeowner, said. "I have no idea how the fire started."

Heavy smoke poured from the home and billowed south down Virginia Street, confusing firefighters as they arrived.

"We really didn't know which (house) was burning," Nicholls said.

He said the blaze was difficult to fight because the house's floor plan and roof design were different from what firefighters are used to. Firefighters were concerned about falling through the roof and into the fire, he said.

"The roof was soft and spongy with all that heat underneath it, and there weren't any joists between the roof and ceiling," Nicholl said.

A neighbor who called the fire department said the blaze was so intense that windows in the house "exploded."

"It was pretty scary. There was nothing we could really do after the call," Nancy Halverson said.

Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the blaze.