A terminally ill patient died in a fire Wednesday at Brazil's Pedro Ernesto University Hospital, one of the most important medical facilities in Rio de Janeiro, officials said.

About 100 of the 350 patients at the hospital had to be evacuated due to the flames and smoke.

The victim, an elderly woman suffering from pulmonary fibrosis, died due to smoke inhalation, Rio de Janeiro Gov. Sergio Cabral said.

The woman was in the pneumology department, one of the areas evacuated as smoke spread rapidly through the hospital.

Some patients complained about inhaling smoke, but no one had to be treated on an emergency basis, hospital spokesmen said.

The fire started around 5:45 a.m. at a construction site next to the hospital's warehouse, destroying supplies, including medicines.

Smoke spread quickly through the hospital's main building, especially the 4th and 5th floors, where about 100 patients had to be evacuated.

Firefighters needed nearly three hours to put out the fire, whose cause has not been determined.

Most of the evacuated patients were able to return to their rooms once the fire was extinguished.

All appointments and surgical procedures scheduled for Wednesday have been cancelled, hospital administrators said.

Several fire units responded to the blaze at the hospital, which is in Rio de Janeiro's Vila Isabel neighborhood, forcing the closings of streets around the medical facility.

Pedro Ernesto University Hospital opened in 1950 and is part of the Rio de Janeiro State University's School of Medicine.

The 525-bed hospital provides treatment in more than 60 specialty areas. EFE