An 80-year-old woman was found dead in a rowhouse that caught fire Tuesday night in the city's Brewerytown section, officials said.

At 7:22 p.m., firefighters were dispatched to the 1400 block of North Hollywood Street, where heavy fire was coming from a house, Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said.

Firefighters battled the flames for 12 minutes and found the woman dead on the first floor, Thiel said.

The cause of the fire was under investigation.

Neighbors identified the victim as Virginia Stevenson.

"She was the pillar of the neighborhood," said Diane Clark, 55.

"Until a few months ago, when she suffered a hip injury, she was always walking around, laughing, talking. She joked all the time. She always had something smart to say," Clark said.

"She's the only one that had all of the pictures of everybody in the neighborhood since we were kids," said Deborah Anthony, Clark's 56-year-old sister.

"And now she's gone. The pictures are gone," Anthony said.

Clark had just cooked dinner for her mother in the house next door when she smelled smoke.

"I went upstairs, and I saw smoke coming through the walls," Clark said. She helped her mother outside and realized the fire was next door.

"I know she can't walk, so I tried to knock her window out," she said.

Some boys nearby were able to break the glass, "but it was too much smoke," she said.

Early Tuesday, Stevenson's 44-year-old son suffered a heart attack and was hospitalized, Clark said. 215-854-5983 @RobertMoran215