Dorothy Cain, a 55-year-old woman who was criticaly injured in the April 11 Lamont Street fire that killed nine other women, died Saturday at Washington Hospital Center.

The 10 deaths make it the worst loss of life in a single fire in the District of Columbia's history, officials said. A fire at the Cinema Follies theater claimed nine lives in 1977.

Cain, who had been referred to the group home by a Department of Human Resources community mental health clinic, had been burned over 60 percent of her body and suffered extensive smoke inhalation, hospital officials said.

Cain apparently has no known relatives. She died at 10 a.m. Saturday.

The community group home at 1715 Lamont St. NW burned when one of the residents accidentally ignited a book of matches. There are no other survivors who have life-threatening injuries, a hospital spokeswoman said.

The fire had prompted investigations by Mayor Marion Barry and Congress into the licensing and safety features of group homes land apartments in the city.

On the night of the fire, Cain twice had been counted among the dead by fire officials at the scene.

Alsmost 30 minutes after other survivors were taken to a hospital or had gathered next door, a fireman helping with mop-up operations on the second floor heard Cain breathing and called for help.

She had been trapped on the second floor in a rear bedroom with three other women who died in the fire.

D.C. fireman Jimmy DiCarlo, who heard Cain, said she had fallen next to a bed and that much of the fire passed over her.

Told not to disturb the bodies to preserve the scene for homicide detectives DiCarlo went back to a third time to the room after two previous checks had been made.

"I heard her breathing, kind of huffing. Her face was in about one inch of water.She was burned . . . but she was alive," DiCarlo said.

"When I saw her it was feeling of elation," DiCarlo said. "It was a tragedy and a great moment within a tragedy. God had wiled her another chance."

If relatives or an organization don't claim her body within seven days, it will be cremated or used for medical science students, a D.C. medical examiners' staff members said. CAPTION: Picture, Fireman Jimmy DiCarlo recalls how he removed Dorothy Cain from home. By Linda Wheeler-The Washington Post