Two of three women who died overnight Wednesday in a blazing Arlington Heights house fire were Russian immigrants -- one who worked as a caregiver for the home's 93-year-old owner, the other the caregiver's 40-year-old daughter who wanted to be a nurse.
The three women who died early Wednesday morning are identified as Doris M. Miller, 93, the non-ambulatory owner of the home at 311 S. Dunton Ave.; Tetiana Krych, 62, who was Miller's live-in caregiver; and Svitlana Kandelis, 40, who was Krych's daughter and had spent the night with her mother, away from her own residence on the 1500 block of Tahoe Circle in Wheeling.
Their deaths were accidental, the Cook County medical examiner's office said Thursday, ruling they died from heat injuries and smoke inhalation.
Though the fire was determined to have begun in the kitchen, its exact cause remained under investigation Thursday, Arlington Heights police said. But there was no indication that the fire was set intentionally and no foul play is suspected.
Reached Thursday night at Kandelis' Wheeling home, her husband, Aleksandr Kandelis, said his wife had been in the United States about two years and was studying nursing at Harper College in Palatine.
Though Aleksandr said he has been in the United States for about 20 years, he met Svitlana on a trip back home to Kiev, Ukraine, where they married.
He said Svitlana didn't have a driver's license and often helped her mother at her job in Arlington Heights. That's where she stayed Tuesday night, never returning home to Wheeling.
"She was happy. ... I feel bad," said her husband, becoming too distraught to say anything else.
Svitlana's father-in-law, Yakow Kandelis, said she was studying nursing with the financial help of her mother. She had been a nurse in her home country and wanted to be licensed here.
He estimated Tetiana Krych had been in the country 12-15 years.
A smoke detector without a battery installed was found in the house.
The fire was first discovered about 3 a.m. Wednesday, when two Arlington Heights police officers were working in the station near an open window and smelled fire.
Firefighters followed the smell to a home five blocks away that was fully engulfed in flames.
Fire Chief Glenn Ericksen said the victims were all found on the first floor of the two-story Cape Cod home. When firefighters arrived at 3:20 a.m., parts of the burning second floor had already collapsed onto the first floor. One of the victims was buried in rubble from the collapsed second floor, police said.
Frank Soprano, who runs an Arlington Heights accounting and tax firm, said Wednesday afternoon that Doris Miller was a client of his. She had no immediate family, he believed, saying her nearest relative was a second cousin.
• Daily Herald staff writer Christopher Placek contributed to this report.