An intense fire in South Philadelphia's Italian Market yesterday claimed the life of a 51-year-old woman, fire officials said.

Executive Fire Chief Daniel Williams said the fire, on 9th Street near Carpenter, above the victim's House of Bread store started shortly after 2 p.m. yesterday.

The two-alarm fire was under control shortly after 3 p.m., Williams said.

Firefighters entered the property and found the dead woman, identified by a family member as Domenica Lombardo. A firefighter was treated at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital for smoke inhalation.

Lombardo's family declined to comment on the tragedy when reached by phone yesterday.

"I just knew her by saying hello to her every day," said Mike, who worked across the street from the site of the blaze, but declined to give his last name.

"She was a really nice lady," he added. "It's awful - the whole place is completely destroyed over there," he added.

Known around the neighborhood as "Sunday" (the English translation of her first name), Lombardo very much loved her daughter, Debra, and her dog, Rocky, friends said.

"She would talk about her daughter all the time," said Jillian Bauer, who occasionally worked at a gift shop down the street from Lombardo's bread store.

"She would sit and talk to the owner and always would tell her how well her daughter was doing in school," Bauer added.

"Everyone in the Italian Market is like family, the woman that owns the gift shop and knew Sunday is hysterical," Bauer added.

To others who knew Lombardo, she was a sweet lady who knew how to make people laugh.

"She always had something funny to say, always," said Janene Hallager, 21. "It's just awful, I can't even think right now." *