A Fairbanks woman died Friday afternoon in a Lemeta neighborhood house fire.
Fairbanks Fire Department responded at 12:51 p.m. to a structure fire at 232 Princess Drive and found the woman deceased in a second-floor room. The fire appears to have started in the same room in which the woman was found, according to a news release issued by the city.
Fire crews were able to extinguish the fire in 10 minutes. No additional fatalities or injuries were reported.
The deceased's name will be withheld until next of kin have been notified.
According to neighbor Beverly Frey, the deceased was in her mid- to late-50s, was a heavy smoker and lived alone with her cat. Frey said the woman lived in the house for approximately 20 years, did not have children, and that her only living relative is an estranged sibling who lives out of the country.
Next-door neighbor Mindy O'Neall said she was working from home when she heard her neighbor banging on her door and yelling. Two neighbors entered the woman's house but were unable to reach her due to heavy smoke. One of the neighbors found the woman's cat and threw it out of a second-floor window. The cat, a 30-pound tabby named Watson, survived.
O'Neall said she and other neighbors became concerned about the woman's well-being after she began exhibiting marked behavioral changes about six months ago. Normally quiet and friendly, the woman began yelling loudly in the middle of the night and would sit in her car and honk the horn for several minutes at a time. O'Neall and her neighbors contacted several state agencies to report their concerns.
Online court records show that a temporary guardianship hearing for the woman was held Sept. 10 in Fairbanks court. An order denying the request for a temporary guardian or conservator was denied Sept. 17.
Contact staff writer Dorothy Chomicz at 459-7582. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMcrime.