Former Illinois Fire Chief Who Was Inspiration for De Niro's 'Backdraft' Role Passes at 77

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  • Published: 11/16/2017 12:00 AM

Not many people have had Robert De Niro star as them in a blockbuster film, but that is the case for a former Sandwich Fire Chief who passed away, this week. Donald Rimgale was 77 years old when he passed away peacefully in his Elmhurst home on Monday. WSPY reported in July of 2016 that Rimgale retired as Sandwich Fire Chief. Chief Jake Pruski has served in the role since that time. Prior to coming to work in Sandwich, Rimgale was an arson investigator and fire marshal for the Chicago Fire Department. Mr. Rimgale, who served two stints with the Sandwich Fire Department from 1999 to 2003, and then serving as chief from 2012 through 2016, was the inspiration behind Robert De Niro’s character, "Inspector Don Rimgale," in the 1991 Ron Howard directed film, Backdraft.


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