SEATTLE (AP) -- An elderly woman who was ailing from Alzheimer's disease died in a smoky fire at the home she shared with a friend of 40 years, friends and fire officials said.
The fire began in wiring between the basement and the bathroom on the first floor of the two-story house Monday morning and caused damage estimated at $225,000, Fire Department spokeswoman Helen Fitzpatrick said.
Firefighters found a woman identified by friends as Marie-Therese Breysach, 75, unconscious on the floor near the front door but were unable to revive her and she died at the scene.
John Mack, who was renovating a neighboring house, said he and an employee, Antonio Hernandez, smelled smoke but thought it was from a nearby fireplace until they saw smoke billowing from the women's home.
They called 911 and pounded on the doors to the house but didn't open them because of the intense heat.
The other occupant of the house, Marian Doty, 79, had left earlier in the morning for a water aerobics class and returned to find extensive fire damage to the basement and smoke damage throughout the house.
Doty, a retired French teacher, said between tears she met Breysach four decades ago while studying in France. Breysach later visited the United States and moved to Seattle, living with Doty's family, she said.
``She has been a lifelong friend, and we consider her a member of the family,'' Doty said.