The fire is believed to have been accidental.
Longtime colleague and fishing partner Doug Smith, the mayor of Edmonton, wrote a touching tribute to his late friend.
"Today, Kentucky lost a great father, husband, friend and statesman in a tragic accidental house fire," Smith's statement reads in part. "Tom heroically made certain his wife Julia made it to safety but lost his life during his effort to save their home."
"He was a friend to many and always a champion of South Central Ky," the statement adds. "His wisdom, kindness and always sage advice was an encouragement to all."
Emberton had been involved in public life for over 30 years. He ran for the governor's seat as a Republican in 1971 and hired a young upstart named Mitch McConnell, currently the Republican leader in the U.S. Senate, to serve on his campaign. McConnell also released a statement about Emberton's passing.
"Elaine and I are heartbroken to learn of the tragic passing of our good friend Judge Tom Emberton," McConnell said. "Tom gave me one of my earliest experiences in the rough and tumble reality of political campaigning, hiring me to work on his 1971 gubernatorial campaign. He taught me valuable lessons on public service and running as a statewide Republican in Kentucky. Tom advocated for conservative values across our state and played a key role in organizing Kentucky Republicans at every level, paving the way for me and so many other conservatives to follow in his footsteps."
Below is an old political ad from Emberton's 1971 campaign:
Emberton ultimately lost the race to Wendell Ford.
In 1987, Governor Wallace Wilkinson, a Democrat, appointed Emberton to serve on the Kentucky Court of Appeals. Emberton was then reelected to the position twice and also served as chief judge. He retired in 2004.
Tom and Julia Emberton had been married for 65 years at the time of his death. They had two children, five grandchildren, and at least one great-grandchild.