Deadly fire caused by fireplace embers - WNEM TV 5

Deadly Christmas Fire

Deadly fire caused by fireplace embers

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Officials in Stamford said a fire that claimed the lives of five people on Christmas morning was caused by old fireplace embers.

The fire has been ruled accidental by officials.

The $1.7 million Victorian home belonging to New York advertising executive Madonna Badger now lies in ruins next to Long Island Sound.

A family also is in ruins - Badger's three girls, 10-year-old Lily and 7-year-old twins, Grace and Sarah perished in the house. Stamford fire officials said her mother, identified as Pauline Johnson passed away as well, and her father, identified as Lomer Johnson died trying to save one of the girls.

The fire broke out just hours after a family friend said Badger was up wrapping Christmas presents until at least 3 a.m.

After finishing, according to the New York Daily News, Badger and her friend, Michael Borcino, loaded fireplace embers into a container and left them near the mud room at the rear of the home.

Somehow, firefighters said, around 5 a.m. fire broke out and crews arrived at the home in less than six minutes to find it engulfed in flames.

The neighborhood is stunned.

Badger and Borcino were able to escape the inferno, but witnesses said they heard Badger screaming that her whole life was inside the home.

Firefighters said Badger tried to climb the renovation scaffolding on the outside of the home in an attempt to get inside the home, presumably to get to her family.

Officials said Badger's elderly father, identified as Lomer Johnson, also tried to save his grandchildren. Stamford Fire Chief Antonio Conte said once the flames were out they found him on one side of a window and his granddaughter just out of reach on the other side.

They said they believe he was inside the home initially and tried to lead his grandchildren outside when he died.

Inferno Takes Its Toll On First Responders

Fire officials in Stamford said many of the firefighters who responded to reports of the fire tried to get the victims out of the home, and then had to witness its aftermath first hand after the blaze was extinguished are now getting counseling.

Grief counselors, many of whom helped New York City firefighters after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, are being made available to any of the firefighters who need to talk about the tragedy.

To read more about the grief counselors, click here.

Refresh this page and watch Eyewitness News for team coverage of the deadly Stamford fire including more information about Badger's children and her parents, as well as what may have caused the fire and what can be done to try and ensure a tragedy like this doesn't happen in the future.

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