A 63-year-old Alexandria woman died from burns yesterday after a two-alarm fire swept through her apartment, forcing the evacuation of the 17-story building in the city's West End, fire officials said.

The woman was identified as Dorothy Stone of 6101 Edsall Rd.

The blaze, which officials said was started by careless smoking, caused $100,000 in damage. A fire official said that Stone was a heavy smoker and that the apartment's smoke detector was disconnected at the time the fire broke out.

The fire was confined to Stone's apartment, the fire department said.

The blaze was reported at 6:30 a.m., when a police officer filling out paper work in his car saw a ball of flames burst onto the balcony of the eighth-floor apartment, officials said.

About 30 firefighters responded to the fire, which took about 20 minutes to bring under control, fire officials said.

Stone's death was the second in the building in the past week.

Last Saturday Alexandria police found Joseph L. Byron, 52, a civilian employe of the Pentagon, bound and strangled in his apartment in the same building. Police are investigating his death as a homicide.

"We have very few homicides and very few fire fatalities each year," said Lucy Crockett, a spokeswoman for the Alexandria police. "It's quite a coincidence.