A bedridden woman in her 60s died in a condo fire in Laguna Niguel on Wednesday evening, despite attempts by neighbors to rescue her, authorities said.
The woman, who lived alone in a two-story condo in the 25100 block of Via Catalina, died in her hospital-style bed on the ground floor. She was well-known by firefighters, who had been to her residence several times in the last two years, according to the Orange County Fire Authority.
About 40 firefighters responded after the fire was reported around 6 p.m.
"They really felt for her in the situation," fire Capt. Steve Concialdi said. She was not immediately identified.
The fire was most likely started by a cigarette discarded by the woman while she was smoking in bed, officials said.
Before firefighters arrived, a next-door neighbor tried to break through the woman's door with an ax but was stopped when black smoke billowed out of the opening, Concialdi said.
Another neighbor went around to the back of the home and tried to enter using a garden hose for protection, but was also stopped by the smoke.
It took firefighters about 20 minutes to get the blaze under control.
The Orange County coroner's office said it was still working to positively identify the woman, whose body was burned beyond recognition.
The fire caused about $105,000 in damage to the structure and destroyed an estimated $50,000 worth of contents, according to the fire authority.