A 60-year-old Washington woman received second and third degree burns when her hospital bed caught on fire at Howard University Hospital yesterday afternoon. D.C. fire department and hospital officials said yesterday.

Mildren Bailey, of 1845 Harvard St. NW, was listed in critical condition yesterday in the surgical intensive care unit of the hospital, with burns on 45 per cent of her body, hospital spokesmen said. They said Mrs. Bailey was a diabetic and had been at Howard University Hospital since July 25. She had had her right let amputated, and complications arose with the healing of the wound, the spokesmen said.

D.C. fire investigator Milton Early said the cause of the fire is under investigation, but both he and hospital officials said it appeared that Mrs. Bailey, who occupied a private room on the southern section of the fourth floor, was smoking in bed when the fire began at about 1 p.m. yesterday.

Investigator Early said the fire caused about $7,500 damage to the room, its furnishings, and the hospital hallway. Seven hospital employees and one other patient were treated for smoke inhalation and released the hospital officials said.

March Britton, assistant administrator at the hospital, said that 24 patients on the fourth floor were transferred to other nursing units because of the fire.