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SALT LAKE CITY -- Salt Lake City fire investigators say improper disposal of cigarettes caused a house fire Thursday morning.
Firefighters were called to a home near 2900 East and 1500 South just before 11 a.m. when neighbors reported smelling smoke, Salt Lake fire Capt. Michael Harp said. Firefighters arrived to find heavy smoke coming from the home, but no visible flames. Neighbor Andy Godwin said there was "black smoke coming from the roof and back of the house."
He was the first to call 911.
"I woke up and was making breakfast and someone knocks on my door, so I run out, and they are like, ‘That next door house is on fire!' So I ran in and called 911," he said.
When crews got there they immediately went inside to see if anyone was trapped.
"Nobody was in the structure at the time of the fire other than the dog. So we have no injuries other than the dog," Harp said.
Crews tried to save the dog, but it was overcome by the smoke and died.
Harp said the firefighters were able to knock down the fire within 10 minutes by ventilating the flames. He said officials have determined that the fire began in the basement, where cigarette butts had been discarded into a cardboard box.
Damage is estimated at $250,000.
All morning crew tried to contact the family, who wasn't home, which Godwin says is a blessing.
"I'm really glad they weren't home, and I hope everything is going to be OK with them," he said.
Firefighters were finally able to get in touch with the family. The Red Cross is helping them with food and clothes and a place to stay.
Firefighters are stressing the importance of disposing of smoking materials safely in a non-combustible container.
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