Firefighters and police battled an “inferno” of flames in a bid to rescue a middle aged woman trapped in a Great Linford flat on Sunday evening.
But despite their best efforts, the fire was so intense that the woman did not survive.
Though police are still awaiting formal identification through specialist records, the Citizen can reveal the victim is believed to be former Open University academic Dr Kathleen Henderson.
Miss Henderson, who was in her mid 50s, retired many years ago through ill health.
Neighbours watched in horror as the blaze swept through her flat in St Leger Court within seconds.
One said: “We knew Kath was in there.
“Two neighbours tried to get in and rescue her before the fire service arrived but they were knocked back by the flames.
“It was the worst feeling in the world knowing she was in there and there was nothing we could do.”
Another told the Citizen: “The flames were 60ft high.
“It was like an inferno. The fire crews were wonderful and did all they could, but she didn’t stand a chance.”
Miss Henderson, who had back pain and mobility problems, had lived in the flat with her partner for 17 years.
> A 58-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder following the fire.
He was released on bail, pending further police enquiries.