WINDSOR (CBS SF) – An elderly woman apparently died in a fire at her Windsor home early Sunday morning, a Windsor Fire Protection District captain said.

The woman was found in the kitchen area of her home at 9687 Old Redwood Highway near Godfrey Drive north of downtown Windsor after firefighters responded to the blaze at 12:26 a.m. and contained it within 15 minutes, fire Capt. Dean Crothers said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, but the woman was a very heavy smoker and a recliner in the living room area was completely destroyed in the blaze, Crothers said.

The woman apparently was trying to escape the blaze, he said.

A Sonoma County sheriff’s deputy was the first on the scene after a neighbor called 911, Crothers said. The deputy forced open the locked front door and saw the woman on the floor but flames immediately drove him back, Crothers said.

The Sonoma County coroner’s office said her identification is pending DNA testing, but she is believed to be the lone renter of the home, Jeanne Ellis.

Ellis was a bookkeeper and officer manager with Sonoma West Publishers. The company publishes the Sonoma West Times, Healdsburg Tribune and Windsor Times.

Publisher Rollie Atkinson said Ellis worked at the company for 30 years. He said it’s 99 percent certain Ellis perished in the fire.

“She was the glue and the continuity through all the ownership changes and kept things steady. She was a newspaper person. You don’t have to be a reporter to be a newspaper person,” Atkinson said.


(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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