An East San Diego woman died of smoke inhalation in her home Wednesday night after she accidentally set a chair on fire, officials said.
Deputy Coroner George Dickason said the fire apparently started when Grace Hayes Israel, 78, was smoking in her home on North Talmadge Drive. She went to get water from the kitchen to extinguish the fire, but was overcome by the smoke.
Neighbors found her lying on the kitchen floor shortly after midnight Thursday. She appeared to have been dead for several hours, Dickason said. There was relatively little fire damage to the smoke-filled home.
Israel was a retired executive secretary for Copley Newspapers. She joined Copley as secretary to the company's founder, Ira C. Copley, in 1936. From 1950 until her retirement in 1962, she was the administrative secretary for James S. Copley, the late publisher of the San Diego Union and The Tribune.