The 65-year-old victim of the fire, who has not yet been named, was found naked, close to a burnt sofa by firefighters. A cigarette is thought to have caused the blaze at the San Javier property by setting the sofa alight.

According to the most recently published Home Office statistics, smoking, or materials associated with smoking, caused 36% of fatalities in accidental fires in English domestic properties in 2014/15 – by far the largest cause of deaths in fires.

The woman's 74-year-old husband is thought to have contacted emergency services at around 9am on Friday morning. Firefighters attended the scene, but the woman was already dead by the time they had forced entry to the room in which her body was discovered.

Though the cause of death is thought to have been suffocation as a result of smoke, reports suggest the woman's body was cold when found, with the fire having already gone out some time before the discovery. An autopsy will now be performed at the Institute of Forensic Medicine in Cartagena. Although the couple are thought to have rowed prior to the accident, there is no suggestion at this stage that the fire was anything other than accidental.

The woman is the second reported ex-pat to have died in the same part of Spain in the last week, in tragic circumstances. Robert Sneddon, 61, who lived in Eastbourne before emigrating, died on Sunday night after a hit and run accident in tourist resort Guardamar del Segura - just a 39km drive from the scene of Friday's fire . Mr Sneddon had lived in Spain for 15 years, according to reports.

Following the crash, Civil Guard officers in the area released pictures of the White Land Rover Discovery involved in the accident, which was registered in Edinburgh in 2013 and issued a warning to those responsible. They said: "Sooner rather than later we'll catch you. If you present yourself voluntarily at your nearest Civil Guard station, things will be better for you."

Spain's Costa Blanca is a popular destination for British migrants iStock