A Christmas Eve fire destroyed a small cottage, off Lakeville Highway east of Petaluma, killing the resident's dog.

The fire was reported by neighbors around 8:45 p.m. at the remote house off a long driveway at the end of Browns Lane, Sonoma County Fire Marshall Roberta MacIntyre said. Resident Paul Cardinaux, 46, was away visiting friends in Santa Rosa at the time.

Units from around the area responded, but were unable to save the 400-square-foot home. Firefighters found the remains of Cardinaux's two-year-old dog in the ashes, she said.

He told investigators that he had been using a wood stove for heat and had left the stove on, although damped down. MacIntyre said it appears that the fire started near the stove, though the exact cause remains under investigation.

Nobody else was at home at the time.

The property owner said the building was insured, and Cardinaux said he did not need emergency aid since he could stay with friends.

The building and its contents were a total loss, with damage estimated at about $52,000, she said.