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Elderly woman dies after Van Nuys house fire

April 1, 2011 12:18:36 AM PDT
An elderly woman who was rushed to the hospital after flames raced through her Van Nuys home died on Friday.

Firefighters said it wasn't the worst conditions they've seen, but there was a lot of clutter that caught on fire.

L.A. City firefighters said there were no working smoke detectors in the home on the 14600 block of West Leadwell Street. The blaze started in the kitchen area just before 5 a.m., and it appeared to be accidental, investigators said.

The victim tried to escape the fire through the front door, but clutter may have been in her way, firefighters said.

Firefighters also believe the victim was trying to save her dog. Neighbors said she loved her cat and her shaggy dog.

"I think she was trying to carry the dog out, and she couldn't get the door open and probably held him because she was found next to the dog by the window on the floor," said neighbor Molly Schori.

The dog was declared dead at the scene.

Residents said the victim was a longtime resident and everyone in the neighborhood loved her.

"She was always there to help us. She took care of everyone," said neighbor Karo Mazidzhyan. "She was very active at church, just a wonderful lady. It's very hard to see her pass this way."