HICKORY HILLS (STMW) — A Hickory Hills police officer is being hailed as a hero for rescuing the owners of a popular banquet hall after fire erupted about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, said Walter Sherman, battalion chief for the Roberts Park Fire Protection District in Justice.

“We wouldn’t be alive right now without him,” said a woman named Joanne who answered the phone at the Camelot, 8624 W. 95th St. in Hickory Hills, late Sunday morning.

She said she and her sister was rescued. The woman declined to disclose her last name but said the hero should be credited with saving their lives.

No one was injured in the blaze but several departments responded, including Bridgeview, Oak Lawn, Chicago Ridge, and Evergreen Park, as well as the Roberts Park and North Palos fire protection districts.

Sherman said Officer Ryan Bajt knew that the facility’s two owners frequently slept at the hall. When he arrived on the scene, he immediately began banging on the door to the office and was able to wake the owners and get them out.

“He’s the hero of the day,” Sherman said.

Though the cause of the blaze is still under investigation, it is believed to have started in the kitchen area, Sherman said. It took firefighters about two hours to put it out, he said.

The woman named Joanne said Camelot is taking calls from customers but she had no information yet about how long the facility will be closed.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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