A fire in which a woman died is believed to have been started by a dropped cigarette.

It is the second such tragedy in Sussex in just four days.

On Wednesday at 4pm in Fairway, Copthorne, near Crawley, an 87-year-old woman died in East Surrey Hospital after suffering from smoke inhalation.

Firefighters believe she dropped her cigarette and passed out as smoke engulfed her living room.

Firefighters from Crawley rushed in and found her unconscious and suffering from burns in an armchair.

A West Sussex Fire and Rescue statement said: “She was immediately carried outside to fresh air where fire crews and paramedics performed CPR and managed to revive her. Sadly, the woman died a short time later in hospital.

“The fire, which is believed to have started accidentally from a dropped cigarette, was extinguished by firefighters using two hose reels and a jet.”

In Bognor an 82-year-old woman died in a virtually identical tragedy.

Edna Bolt was discovered on the floor of her home in Winston Crescent, North Bersted, on Sunday Fire crews declared her dead at the scene.

Early indications are that both blazes started as a result of smoking materials.

Community fire safety officer for West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service Jackie Boyle said: “This is a very sad way for these two lives to end.

“The fact is that, nationally, smoking is still the biggest cause of death in accidental house fires.

“These two very tragic incidents within such a short space of time really do highlight just how dangerous it can be if cigarettes are not extinguished properly.”

A Sussex Police spokesman, referring to Wednesday’s fire, said: “Police and fire investigators are carrying out a joint enquiry into the cause of the fire, which at this time is not being treated as suspicious, but as a tragic accident. “The woman has not yet been formally identified.”