HAYWARD -- Authorities have identified an elderly woman who died in a fire Monday night at Cypress House Apartments as 76-year-old Peggy Harding.
Harding, who had been bedridden since 1998 because of a stroke, died after becoming trapped in the bedroom of her burning apartment on Cypress Avenue, Hayward fire spokesman La Shon Earnest said Tuesday.
Firefighters were called at 7:28 p.m. to the 50-unit complex after they received reports of smoke coming from a first-floor apartment.
Crews arrived a few minutes later and had the one-alarm fire under control within about 10 minutes. As they moved through the apartment, checking for hot spots, they discovered Harding dead in a back bedroom.
Earnest said an upstairs neighbor heard a smoke alarms, went downstairs, opened the door and saw Harding's 76-year-old husband, Randy.
"The neighbor saw flames in the back bedroom, grabbed a fire extinguisher and made an attempt to put it out, but the smoke was too overwhelming," Earnest said.
The fire, he said, was too hot for either of the men to get Peggy Harding out of the apartment. Both men were treated for minor smoke inhalation and released at the scene, Earnest said.
Investigators determined the fire was started by an electrical malfunction. A wall outlet in the bedroom had been modified with a four-outlet conversion, Earnest said; it overheated and ignited a nearby pillow.
Randy Harding "tried to move it, burned his hand, dropped the pillow and couldn't control the fire," Earnest said.
The fire, which caused nearly $100,000 in damage, did not spread to other units in the apartment complex, Earnest said.
Contact Natalie Neysa Alund at 510-293-2469. Follow her at Twitter.com/nataliealund.