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UPDATED: Arson Suspected in Velvet Rope Fire

Owner of Oak Park's Velvet Rope says inflammatory message found on wall inside the fire-ravaged night club.

Update, 11:44 a.m. The State Fire Marshal's office is investigating Sunday's fire after "determining there was probable cause to indicate arson" may have caused the blaze, authorities said. A full report on the fire should be completed by Thursday, Oak Park fire officials said. 

Police in Oak Park did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment. According to a department-issued press release, "no additional information will be available until the investigation is completed."

The owner of the in Oak Park believes the early morning fire that destroyed his night club was motivated by anti-gay sentiments, WGN-TV reports.

Frank Elliott, 25, told the TV station derogatory comments were discovered on a wall inside the club, 728 Lake St., and that a door inside the club had been kicked in. 

Earlier:

Authorities were called to the area around 6:30 a.m. Sunday to discover the gay-friendly club on fire.

According to Oak Leaves, "minutes after the fire was extinguished Sunday morning at 6:55 a.m., Oak Park police were called to the scene for an arson investigation and to rope off the building 'as a crime scene.'"

On Sunday afternoon, pedestrians headed to Day in Our Village festival in nearby Scoville Park gawked from beyond yellow police tape at the club's gutted, soot-covered interior and the shards of glass from the lounge's front windows that had spilled onto the sidewalk.

For most of the afternoon, investigators were making their way in and out of the club's front doors. WGN reports "authorities were seen removing a piece of concrete wall and loading it onto a truck."

Adjacent businesses in the popular downtown plaza were forced to close because of smoke damage, including restaurant, and .

Please return to Oak Park-River Forest Patch for updates as they become available.

tyler briggs June 08, 2012 at 02:51 PM
How convenient a failing business burns down, just as the owner is opening a new place.. Makes you wonder!!

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