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Man Who Died In Highland Park Fire Believed To Be Restaurateur

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(AP File Photo)

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HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (CBS) — It could be a few days before authorities have a positive identification on a man found dead in his burning home in Highland Park, but neighbors say he was the owner of a local restaurant.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports, the victim is believed to be Giacomo Ruggirello, the owner of an Italian restaurant called Trattoria Giacomo across from Fort Sheridan.

LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Mike Krauser reports

Fire crews responded to 1788 Midland Ave. in Highland Park around 12:45 a.m. Monday. By then, the fire was so far along that the house next door was in danger.

“I could see four fire trucks all around,” said neighbor Eileen Davidson, who lives across Sherwood Street from the burned-out house. The house is on the corner of Sherwood and Midland.

Around 4 a.m., a police officer came to the door and said the inside of the house “was toast” and asked if they knew their neighbor. They personally didn’t know him, but believed he was the owner of an Italian restaurant in Highwood.

Lake County Coroner’s Artis Yancey says it does not appear the man was murdered, but the investigation is continuing. It could be a few days before DNA provides a positive ID.

Ruggirello, a native of Palermo, Italy, opened Trattoria Giacomo in Highwood about 16 years ago. He told the Lake County News-Sun his family operated a pastry shop and café in Italy, and he later worked in a bakery in Cicero and in several Chicago restaurants, and did a 12-year stint in New Orleans, before opening the North Shore restaurant.

The Lake County News-Sun contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2012. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)