The victim has been identified as Christina Cuardarado, 48.
Investigators say Cuardarado's mother came home and found the third-floor apartment filled with smoke. When she tried to open her daughter's bedroom door, the door was barricaded with suitcases.
"Her mom came home and called for the super. She saw smoke and he tried to get in and the fire department was called and they forced their way in and stretched the hose line and put the fire out," said FDNY Deputy Chief Mike Mullins.
Fire officials are looking into whether the victim may have intentionally set the fire.
No other apartments were affected.