An early morning Mother’s Day fire destroyed a Hickory Hills banquet hall that is a popular venue for weddings and parties.
Roberts Park Fire Protection District officials believe the fire started in the kitchen at Camelot Banquets at 4:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 12. Firefighters from Roberts Park, the North Palos Fire District, Oak Lawn, Evergreen Park and Chicago Ridge took two hours to extinguish the blaze. No one was injured.
Camelot owners Joanne Naughton and Krys Drozek were sleeping in an office after cleaning up from the previous night’s parties when the fire broke out. A Palos Hills police officer passing by saw flames coming from the building, 8624 W. 95th St, and rushed in to make sure the sisters got out of the building. Officer Ryan Bajt knew the sisters often slept in the building, and began banging on the door to wake them up, Drozek said.
“He’s a hero, he got to us just in the nick of time,” Drozek said.
Roberts Park fire Chief Jeff Ketchen commended Bajt for helping the sisters.
“Without his quick actions, they might not have gotten out of the building safely,” Ketchen said.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but firefighters believe the fire started in the kitchen because that area endured the heaviest damage, Ketchen said. The damage to the building rendered it a total loss, and the roof collapsed.
The owners do not know when the banquet hall will reopen. Drozek said the fire was tragic, and urged cusotmers with reservations for parties or weddings at the banquet hall to be patient. Parties scheduled for this weekend have been relocated to the Hickory Hills Country Club,
“We’re still trying to figure out what we are going to do,” Drozek said. “We’re trying to rebook our parties and events at other venues. We’re taking as many calls as humanly possible and trying to get to everyone. A lot of our contracts are burnt, so we’re asking people to be patient.”