A 34-year-old Santee woman died in a condominium fire early Christmas morning. Firefighters said the blaze broke out after a cigarette was left burning on a recliner.
According to the county coroner's office, Lauren Jane Neilson of the 9400 block of Carlton Oaks Drive died of smoke inhalation and burns. The fire forced the evacuation of all the five-unit complex's residents. An adjoining condominium was also damaged.
Firefighters, who were alerted at 2:54 a.m., arrived to find the condo engulfed in flames. Their efforts to subdue the fire were hampered by subfreezing temperatures, which formed icicles on the ladders and made clothing freeze on the firefighters.
Damage was estimated at $118,000.