One man dead after fire on Milwaukee's south side

CREATED Jun 7, 2014

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MILWAUKEE - The death of a man inside 1211 W. National has overwhelmed the neighborhood with sadness. Neighbors say he was a good man, always willing to help out, even at the age of 81.

"But right now, my head's a blur. I know the man, he's a beautiful man, took care of us," said Dennis Chojnacki.

Dennis Chojnacki holds back tears as he talks about the man in this house who would often take the bus to the store, and then share what he bought with others, sometimes just fruit from Pick N. Save, and then other times, something bigger.

"He just bought me a brand new lawn mower to cut the grass and that was this week," said Chojnacki.

Firefighters rushed to the scene around 2:30pm and found heavy, black smoke and through it all, they located the victim, lying on the floor. It's unclear whether he had been overcome with smoke while trying to escape.

"It'd be very difficult for me to take a guess at whether or not he was trying to get out, if he was overcome by the smoke, or if there was something else involved," said Milwaukee's Assistant Fire Chief Dan Lipski.

Assistant Chief Lipski describes this as a cottage home in the rear. It sits next to a liquor store, where employees there are also upset at the loss.

"Sometimes he's helping me to clean the store, and yea, he's a good guy," said Tony Ahmed who runs that liquor store.

Firefighters found no working smoke detectors in the home and say it's a good reminder for everyone to go home and be sure their alarm is working.

The name of the victim has not yet been released. He's 81 years old and neighbors say he lived alone.