Two men killed in laundromat fire

January 3, 2008 10:17:21 AM PST
Two men were killed in early morning fire at a Chicago Ridge Laundromat. Both victims are believed to be homeless men who were trying to keep warm. The victims are Abel Patro, 30s, of the Posen area, and Jack Riley, 57, according to the Cook County Medical Examiner. Police said two other homeless men and personal items found at the Laundromat helped them identify Petro and Riley.

"We're sure going to miss him, though. He was a lovely guy," said Bob Robinson, victim's friend.

Robinson and Laura Quillinan knew one of the victims.

"He would give you the shirt off his back. He was the kindest gentleman you would ever want to meet. He would never take anything from anybody," said Quillinan.

Investigators say the fire broke out around 2 a.m. Thursday in the rear of the 24-hour Laundromat called Bruno's.

"We don't know if they had started a fire inside the building. We don't know if they were smoking and fell asleep. We're not sure what happened," Chief Tim Baldermann, Chicago Ridge Police Department.

Authorities said both men appeared to be homeless and probably sought refuge from last night's bitter cold after all the beds at the suburb's church-sponsored shelter became full.

"We're part of a network of parishes in the area-- Catholic parishes and protestant parishes offering shelter. It's called PADS. So we take care of the shelter on Wednesday night," said Father Paul Burack, Our Lady of the Ridge Church.

The fire gutted the business.

"People come to this life and die. It's the same way with business. You don't know when you're going to go out," said Bruno, owner of Bruno's Laundromat.

Bruno's, a coin-operated Laundromat, was not manned. Officials said it was a well-known fact that sometimes homeless individuals would go there when shelters were full.