The first firefighters to arrive at a blazing house fire in Hugo went into "rapid rescue mode" because they thought the family was trapped inside, Fire Chief Jim Compton said Monday.

"It's kind of like swallowing your heart," he said.

The house that burned Sunday night at 8745 136th St. Court, in a rural neighborhood about four miles east of Hugo, belonged to Daniel and Gayle Galvin, Compton said.

The cause of the fire was ruled "undetermined" because nothing was left of the house, Compton said after meeting with the state fire marshal. The loss was valued at $1 million.

Firefighters later learned the family was eating at a local restaurant when the fire began about 7 p.m., he said. Nobody was injured but the family's dog and cat died in the fire, he said.

About 75 firefighters from Centennial, Forest Lake, White Bear Lake, Mahtomedi and Stillwater departments helped battle the blaze, Compton said.

Water tankers were brought to the scene because the nearest fire hydrant was at least three miles away.

Kevin Giles