Heartland Fire and Rescue engine
A Heartland Fire and Rescue engine. Courtesy of the department

Firefighters extinguishing an El Cajon apartment fire early Thursday found a stricken retirement-age woman, who was pronounced dead a short time later in a hospital.

The blaze in the 1500 block of Gustavo Street erupted for unknown reasons about 12:30 a.m., according to Heartland Fire & Rescue.

Arriving firefighters found the ground floor of a two-story apartment in the neighborhood just east of Jamacha Road engulfed in flames, said Sonny Saghera, spokesman for the East County emergency services agency.

It took crews about five minutes to gain control of the blaze, Saghera said. During a search of the charred apartment, the personnel found an unconscious woman with no pulse by a back door. Medics took her to Sharp Grossmont Hospital in La Mesa, where she was pronounced dead, Saghera said.

The name of the victim was withheld pending family notification.

Cause of the fire, which resulted in an estimated $100,000 worth of property losses, was under investigation.

Updated at 12:40 p.m. Oct. 31. 2019

— City News Service