Superheated air in fire killed Naperville couple

Superheated air generated by the flames that engulfed and destroyed their house has been cited as the cause of the deaths last month of a husband and wife from Naperville’s west side.

Recently finalized autopsy reports showed Thomas and Janet Lambert died of “inhalation of thermal injuries due to the house fire,” said Chief Deputy DuPage County Coroner Charlie Dastych. The manner of the couple’s deaths was accidental in nature, Dastych said.

Thomas Lambert, 57, and Janet Lambert, 56, were killed after the fire erupted just before 7 a.m. Dec. 18 inside their two-story house at 1212 Field Court, southeast of Jefferson Avenue and River Road in the Will-O-Way neighborhood.

The couple lived there with Thomas Lambert’s sister, Patricia Carhoff, who had recently moved to Naperville from Arizona; the Lambert siblings’ father, John Lambert, 84; and a 21-year-old man who worked as a full-time caregiver.

Carhoff, 56, and John Lambert escaped from the house, and the caregiver was rescued from the second floor by Naperville firefighters. Carhoff and John Lambert were released from Edward Hospital in Naperville after undergoing treatment there for fire-related injuries, while the unidentified, more seriously-hurt caregiver was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood. His condition was not known.

Naperville Fire Department investigators, meanwhile, are continuing their efforts to determine the source and cause of the blaze. Deputy Fire Chief Rick Sander said it might take another month before those conclusions can be drawn.

Thomas Lambert was a psychologist whose practice was in downtown Naperville. He had been battling an aggressive type of brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme, and was hoping for acceptance into a clinical trial at the Cleveland Clinic.

Janet Lambert lost her vision 28 years ago to brain cancer, according to family friend Lee Thomsen. The couple had been married more than 20 years.

Fire officials last month said the floor of an upstairs bedroom, where the couple were believed to have been at the time, ultimately gave way and collapsed to the ground floor. The fire does not appear to have been suspicious or criminal in nature, officials said.

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