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La Grange fire kills elderly couple

December 8, 2012 8:22:06 PM PST
Investigators are looking for the cause of a fire that killed a couple in southwest suburban La Grange.

Both were in their 90's. He served in World War II and was a retired physicist.

Their names have not been released.

Neighbors say the elderly couple that perished in their single family house fire early Saturday morning in the country club section of La Grange were home for the holidays from their home in Florida.

The elderly man in his 90's married his second wife five years ago when he was 85. He was the father of six daughters all grown.

Saturday afternoon, some of his daughters came to look at the damage from the fire and to console each other. One of daughters placed flowers on the front porch. The son-in-law said that Sunday they will identify their father's body. The victim's family also spent time with one of the neighbors.

"They are visibly shaken by it," said neighbor Ralph Fornari. "This is the home where they grew up. He was a great guy."

Fornari says the elderly man was a World War II veteran who served on the USS Essex. He was a naval academy graduate and a retired physicist at Argonne. He was a very smart guy.

"Obviously a very bright guy," Fornari said. "He was always working. He use to lament that he still had open projects from his time at Argonne."

The La Grange fire chief says they arrived on the scene a little after 1:30 a.m. when everyone was asleep and it was not easy to get both bodies out of the single family home.

"It was difficult," said La Grange Fire Chief Bill Bryzgalski. "We had a lot of fire. The whole front of the house was engulfed in heavy fire. A lot of smoke. We started knocking got inside and started searching."

Next door neighbor Tony Kernagis was immediately alerted by police knocking on his front door.

"He told us you have a minute to get out so we grabbed the kids," Kernagis said. "It is too bad. With the amount of smoke, I think they passed peacefully."

"We stood out in the rain to see their house burn down," said neighbor Tom Gorski. "It was pretty sad to see for a couple hours."

Neighbors say it is a loss to the neighborhood and to their family that this couple lost their lives in a tragic fire.

The cause of the fire is still unknown.

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