A 78-year-old West Allis woman died in a house fire early Wednesday, according to the city's Police Department.
The victim, Joyce C. Liske of 1760 S. 72nd St., is believed to have died of smoke inhalation, according to the department's release, which cited an autopsy.
According to the release:
Firefighters, dispatched to the building about 2:30 a.m., found Liske's body outside second-floor bedrooms and near a stairway. The fire had started in a stairway but wasn't of suspicious origin.
A passer-by, Armando Ramirez, discovered the fire, police said.
In a phone interview, Ramirez, who works second shift at Color Ink in Sussex, said he'd been at a bar after work with a friend who lived behind Liske, and he was going into his friend's house when he saw flames on her roof. He and another man pounded on windows, but there was no response.
He then entered by the front door and searched the first floor, yelling for anybody in the building, still with no response. He was overwhelmed by smoke in the kitchen, and had to leave the house, at which time he heard sirens of the arriving fire trucks.
"I wish I could have saved her," he said.