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DANA POINT : Fatal Mobile-Home Fire Started in Bed

A mobile-home fire that killed an elderly woman Sunday night was accidental and started in her bed, Orange County Fire Department officials said Monday.

“Some sort of smoking materials in the bedding ignited the fire,” said Kathleen Cha, a County Fire Department spokeswoman.

The 75-year-old woman, whose name has been withheld pending notification of relatives, died of smoke inhalation, according to a report from Deputy Coroner Bill King. She was a cigarette smoker and had been suffering from an undetermined illness, said Leah Lindsay, a neighbor at Dana Point Marina Mobile Home Estates.

The fire, which started about 6:30 p.m. Sunday, began in a rear bedroom and quickly spread throughout the mobile home, Cha said.

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The victim apparently became disoriented during the fire and headed toward her dressing room and bathroom area, where she was found on the floor, Cha said.

“She was probably disoriented because there was no exit that way,” Cha said. “We recommend that mobile-home owners install a back exit--either make one for themselves or get one built in.”

Firefighters quickly brought the blaze under control and prevented it from spreading to other mobile homes in the 100-home park near Dana Point Harbor.

A dead cat, which fire officials assume belonged to the victim, was also found in charred remains of the home, Cha said. She added that no smoke detector was found in the charred home.

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“All mobile homes should have smoke detectors, particularly because of the materials the homes are made of,” Cha said. “They are very combustible. We estimate it takes only three to five minutes for a mobile home to become fully engulfed.”

Lindsay said the victim, a friend of 45 years, had lived in the park for 13 years after moving from Toluca Lake.

“Most of her friends had moved away,” Lindsay said. “We know she had some brothers and nephews in Las Vegas, but we have not been able to locate them.”

The victim’s recent illness had kept her at home, Lindsay said.

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“She’s been ill for the past three months--some sort of internal problem that the doctors have not been able to figure out,” Lindsay said. “That kept her home and in bed quite a lot.”

Lindsay said she last saw the woman on the day of the fire.

“I took her to the store and then brought her some soup later,” Lindsay said. “It’s really tragic that it happened, especially at this time of the year.”


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