An unidentified man died Tuesday evening after a passerby saw him on fire in the 9900 block of Southwest Highway.
By the time Oak Lawn and Burbank firefighters arrived at the scene, the man was already dead, according to the Oak Lawn police.
Commander Det. Randy Palmer, of the Oak Lawn Police Department, said that a citizen driving by reported a man burning in a Dumpster area around 9:39 p.m. The citizen stopped and tried to extinguish the flames.
Burbank firefighters were the first to arrive on the scene, but the man was already deceased. Palmer said the man appeared to be homeless and living behind the commercial buildings on Southwest Highway.
“It appears it was an accidental fire,” Palmer said. “He tired to stay warm or was smoking and caught on fire.”
The man apparently had a bed in the enclosed bricked area behind the former ReMax building. Palmer said the man could have possibly fallen asleep while smoking in bed or started a fire trying to stay warm.
“We’re surprised that the garbage men or somebody didn’t notice him back there and call us,” the police commander said. “That’s unusual.”
The body was brought to the Cook County Medical Examiner’s office for an autopsy on Wednesday. Oak Lawn police are working at identifying the man so they can notify his family members.
“It’s a sad case,” Palmer said.