The heartbroken woman, who wishes to stay anonymous, collapsed in her basement flat in Queens Road, Fratton, on Tuesday evening after lighting a candle, which caused the fire.
The woman, who already has a collapsed lung, woke up coughing as thick smoke filled her living room.
Tragically, three family cats were not so lucky and died of smoke inhalation – being found later by firefighters huddled together in a corner.
Megan Allen, the woman’s daughter, said her mum works long hours, which led to her collapsing.
Speaking to The News, she added the home was completely destroyed and said: ‘It is all black. Everything is gone.
‘She loved it here. It is a nice little flat, she has really nice neighbours.’
Firefighters from Southsea, Cosham and Portchester were called at 6.58pm and used water hoses to bring the blaze under control.
Teresa Harnden, a neighbour, was shocked by the fire and spent hours comforting the woman.
Teresa said: ‘She was scared. She was totally traumatised. I don’t think it hit her what was happening.
‘I just feel sorry for the lady. She did not even have a pair of shoes on her feet.’
Courtney Tomkinson, who lives in the flat above, was out at the time of the incident, but returned today to see the devastation left behind at the flat underneath.
She said: ‘It is scary how quickly things can change.
‘You don’t think something like this can happen, when I saw it in the news I didn’t think it was us.’
Crew manager Graham Dance, who was among those fighting the fire, said: ‘We knocked the fire back from outside before going in. It was a severe fire - luckily the occupant was not in.
‘We were able to prevent the fire from spreading to other flats by containing it to the basement.
‘Everyone had self-evacuated the flat by the time we had arrived.’
The Red Cross also assisted those at the scene.
Fire crews returned on Wednesday morning to inspect the property.