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Stamford, Conn. — The story of the three children and their grandparents who perished in an early morning Christmas fire was already sad enough, but now that some of the details have been released it’s almost enough to make you slit your wrists.

At around  5 a.m. Sunday morning, neighbors heard Madonna Badger screaming as flames shot out of the windows of her million dollar, 19th-century house that overlooked Long Island Sound.

Badger had escaped the home and was on a second floor scaffolding when she was rescued by firefighters who had arrived within minutes. She told them her three daughters and her parents were still trapped inside. Michael Borcina, a family friend who was helping renovate the three-story home, had also made it out of the house. He told firefighters he had led two of the girls from the third floor to the second floor but they panicked and separated from him.

Lily, Grace, Sarah, Lomer and Pauline Johnson

Despite the firefighter’s best efforts, the three girls, Lily, 9,  and her sisters Grace and Sarah, 7-year-old twins, would die in the burning home as would Badger’s parents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson, who had been visiting for the holiday.

I thought all of that was sad enough, until new details emerged regarding the deceased and what they were doing in their final moments. Specifically Lomar Johnson, who had just played Santa at Manhattan’s Saks 5th Avenue on Christmas Eve, and his final attempt to save one his granddaughters.

After the fire was well underway, the entire family were awake and trying to escape the home as portions of it collapsed around them.

Firefighters, who were forced out of the home multiple times by the flames and intense heat, would find one of the girls on the third floor, her sister on the second floor with her grandmother at the foot of a stairwell, and the other sister in a second floor bedroom sitting on a pile of books by a window leading out to an unfinished roof.

On that same roof, right outside the window, the girls’ grandfather was found where he had fallen face down between rafters. He’d been trying to save his granddaughter and had died the moment he’d gotten through  the window.

Fire Marshal Barry Callahan said the fire was caused by embers carried from the home’s fireplace to a mudroom or an adjacent trash enclosure at the rear of the house sometime after 3 a.m. You can watch the full press conference below if you’re interested.

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  • Reading these stories day after day, I always try to come up with something sinister as to why something happened. I heard about this and automatically assumed someone had set the fire, because shit is fucked up like that. But now, I can’t decide whether it is more fucked up that this was actually an accident, or if it would have been worse had it been intentional. It’s fucked up either way, but knowing it was an accident and just happened out of nowhere, to a good family, with young children, and loving grandparents…

    It’s just fucked up no matter how you look at it. My heart goes out to those who died, as well as those who now have to pick up the pieces of their lives. I can’t imagine losing your whole family, your whole world, in one day. Especially on Christmas.

    That is so fucked up.

  • There is no turn-around for this poor woman; not after a tragedy such as this. Goodness knows what she’ll do to get through this. I can honestly say I would kill myself. 

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, what Count Rackula said. Just…sadness.
    I can’t imagine being that mother trying to put her life back together after something like this.

  • I completely agree. I’d have survivor’s guilt like a motherfucker.

  • LeaveMeBe

    I’m with you. I’d just stop living. No way in the world after losing my children and parents could I go on.

  • Anonymous

    House fires ranks right up there with some cocksucker breaking into home. Mainly because of my sons. We all survived a fire more than 20 years ago and its on my mind all the time. Me, my sis, parent, grandparents and uncle all there. I don’t remember anything after waking up and screaming for anyone to wake up, dad was first.  A little girl died in a fire just a few house up from there when I was in high school. Ours was an electrical fire, I heard the girl up the street was playing with a lighter. 

  • LOL michael borcina was like fuck that shit! peace!

  • accident is less screwed up…

  • Anonymous

    My heart breaks for this woman and the father of the kids, also for the boyfriend who had tried to save them. May god somehow allow this woman to live on. Please skip using a fireplace they aren’t worth it. Skip candles too, use scented reeds.

  • Anonymous

    Well this sucks dick AND ass.

    I was wondering why the mom got out & didn’t try to get her kids… I don’t know I mean somehow this reminds me of that Quebec woman who killed her disabled mother in a house fire & later killed her 2 kids in another house fire all for money & because she was a psychopath.

    I could totally be wrong but you can bet your ass my kids would’ve been out of there & my ass would’ve been dead trying.

  • LeaveMeBe

    It wasn’t caused by the fireplace but by the improper disposal of ashes and embers from the fireplace. 

  • Anonymous

    How horrible.  I kept expecting to where the mother did it intentionally.  UGH, it still sucks so badly. I tend to agree with JGo555, if I couldn’t get my kids out, I’d die trying.  

  • Anonymous

    It seems that the kids were already following an adult before being overcome with smoke. It’s possible she looked for them and decided to leave in the hopes they had gotten out or she needed air and would have went back in. It would be tragic if the mom had died in the fire looking for the kids who where safe outside. If she tried to go back in the fire and rescue wouldn’t have let her. 

  • Anonymous

    Unfortunately Jgo, it happens so fast you don’t  have time to think and the smoke disorients you. I read many a story where bodies were found at the front door. It’s so dark hot and toxic, it’s hard getting yourself out, muchless anyone else.Iam so sad for this family.

  • gf

  • I’d turn to smack or some other serious illicit drug to numb the pain.

  • i’m dangerously desensitized at the moment and have found this story captivating. after reading through articles and watching video, i found this interestingly mentioned…

    apparently the fire happened because her and her boyfriend disposed of some hot fireplace ash near the home… it continued to smolder and made it’s way into the home. and if that’s not enough they can’t confirm if there were smoke detectors/working smoke detectors.

    so, it’s not just survivor’s guilt this woman is dealing with. holy shit, she’s literally going to feel like she murdered her entire family! that lady has to be a rock.

  • how do we know it wasnt intentional by accident.boyfriends of women with children from another man often cause harm. As we all have read here

  • her and the boyfriend made it out

  • Anonymous

    Um. There’s this thing. Called evidence.

  • Anonymous

    What the hell?

  • Anonymous

    my heart breaks for this poor lady- i absolutly do not believe the boyfriend- claiming he got the girls and they ran back into the smoke and flames-i don’t believe him. he was found outside in the yard- everyone who really tried to save the victims was injured, burnt or dead.who is this man?what is in his past? he is offensive making statements to the press that” we are going to be o.k.- really?her children are dead her parents are dead her home and everything in it are gone- o.k.?really?

  • that’s the spirit!

  • well. if you were “guiding” children out of a blazing home would you just let them run off, with seemingly no questions asked?

    he had two of those girls with him! why didn’t he have a white knuckled grip on at least one of them?? kids “panicking” and running off just doesn’t sit right with me… one should have at least made it out with him.

    he just seemed to be more concerned about himself is all.

  • This is pretty sad:  “The day before Mr. Johnson died, he was living his lifelong dream: he had been hired to play Santa on the ninth floor of the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship store in Manhattan. While playing Santa on Christmas Eve, Mr. Johnson remained in character, even while eating lunch in the cafeteria in his red suit, said Christine Dattolo, a skin care saleswoman. “He was Santa,” Ms. Dattolo said. “He was just amazing.”

  • I haven’t posted in awhile, but I lurk constantly… Capitan Obvious 🙂

    A few things with this don’t add up to me. It really seems (especially since I read this crap all the time) that this was no accident… lets explore
    1. the house was under construction for renovations, meaning some or most of the walls were opened allowing the fire to spread faster
    2 the person doing the renovation, was there, is a contractor and is well aware of the dangers of fire place ash
    3 this was a large Victorian home, probably insured for lots of money
    4 the parents were probably well off and had large life insurance policies
    5 the children (having a mother that is well off) probably all had life insurance policies
    6 the childrens mother is recently divorced from their father 
    7 new boyfriend….

    After much discussion with my hubby, it seems these two pulled off a perfect crime. The cause of the fire has been determined all braces holding up the home were removed, therefor ruining any chance of further investigation. 

    After writing that I hope beyond hope that I am wrong. I would lose my shit if something like this happened to me. 

    Those poor babies and their grandparents… may they fly with angels

  • Anonymous

    Somehow the parents usually do. I’ve never understood why kids are always trapped and the parents are usually able to get out. Even in trailers, where you know they aren’t on different floors or on different ends of the house, but somehow the parents get out then stand in their front yard screaming for someone to rescue their kids that are still inside.

  • what evidence?

  • did they find the smoke detectors yet?

  • I have read that the only thing that helps is a dose of MDMA  ecstasy drug. Worked on a woman in similar situation. She said it brought her back to reality and present time.

  • Oooh…. burn… 😛

  • Anonymous

    so you think this mother killed all of her children and her parents for money?  I disagree with this on so many levels.  If this were for money how would she know no one would survive except for her and the boyfriend?  and you say they were well off, so why would she kill her three kids for the money?  oh yeah and her parents.  I personally believe this is a horrific tragedy and nothing else.  Do you know how rare it is for a mother to kill her children and or parents for monetary gain?  I’m not buying that………………….

  • Anonymous

    I read some comments from another news article addressing the same issue.  Some firefighter posted saying that sometimes, even for firefighters in full gear, the intensity of the flames and heat literally make the body refuse to go back in, despite what the person might want to do.  I can see this happening and I imagine that for many survivors they are plagued by guilt. 

    I find it interesting that people keep referring to Michael Borcina as the boyfriend.  I can’t find one place in this write-up (or in any other articles) that describes him as such.

  • Anonymous

    You’d have to ask the fire investigators. I’m not one.

  • Shade

    I’ve seen multiple articles, from Verizon’s news to cnn’s, saying that he was the boyfriend and the contractor.  I also read that he was not properly licensed / permitted to be working where he was, doing the work that he was, so I imagine that he will no longer be the boyfriend, he will no longer be the contractor, and he will be facing some serious criminal charges.

  • No one ever wants to think a Mother would murder her children… I was merely pointing out the other side of things… that and I spend waaaaay to much time reading this website 0_o  people do really stupid things for money and new boyfriends 🙁     
    Every time there is a news cast on about this I’m glued… I said before I hope I am wrong. 

  • Anonymous

    I have a hard time believing she did this mainly because she is very wealthy and can afford all the childcare she wants, she is (and let me preface this by saying I have not been on news today)  not in a bad custody situation, it was a stunning historic mansion and having to rebuild completely will lower the value of the property.  I just don’t see the upside.  Usually when parents kill children it’s because they are “in there way”.  I just don’t see that here.  But of course I’m just speculating like you.  and yes I too spend way to much time on this site!!!  🙂

  • Canuck Gramz

    That was my thought too. I can’t even imagine how horrible it would be to survive.

  • Canuck Gramz

    I don’t think you’re dangerously desensitized. To quote Criminal Minds ” Not having feelings is not the same as not knowing how you feel”

    If you’re thinking you’re desensitized, I am the opposite. I got emotions enough for ten women at this point in my life. Which can be good and can be bad. Felt tears well up as I read the story. Thought I had it under control till I read the names of those girls. One of my grandaughters is named Lily. Pictured any of my grandchildren’s mother going through this and that was it – waterworks. We lost a grandbaby to a drunk driver in 1999 and the dad has never recovered . To think of this woman losing her babies AND her babies and then thinking she herself might have inadvertently caused it!

  • Canuck Gramz

    I thought of that too. I also thought if it was me I’d have been on the list of people who died because no way would I have left that house without my kids. But apparently the instinct for survival is very strong, especially where a fiery painful death is possible.

  • Canuck Gramz

    I just read that they ( firefighters and other important authority people) demolished the house, saying it was no longer safe. Not even a week after the fire. Not sure what that is about, but probably not wanting the mother ( who is apparently out of the hospital and hiding out- don’t blame her) trying to go in the home where her family died, to find some momentos or photos and such. And maybe to keep weirdos from going in there too, and having the house fall on their heads. Just to see the three pics of the house – before fire, after fire, then after demolishing, it’s pretty brutal.

  • Anonymous

    Protip: Fireplace ashes can remain smoldering for 3-4 days.  Get a proper standing metal ash container!  Only YOU can prevent the incineration of all your worldly possessions and family members.

  • wolfcat

    Who the fuck takes hot ashes and puts them in a metal container? Also, Who the Fuck starts a fire in a house especially one that big without a damn good fire alert system. You can’t tell me there was a good one or everyone would have made it out. Lastly, why the fuck don’t people jump out the damn windows in these situations? You can’t tell me that none of those kids could have jumped and they may have broken something, but I’d put the odds at about 80% for survival if they went feet first. The 3rd floor isn’t that high considering my family is always laughing about my uncle who would do flips and jump off the 2nd story roof of an old house and he NEVER got hurt or broke anything.

  • So apparently the ashes were moved in the first place because the girls were worried about Santa getting his ass burned as he came down the chimney:|main5|dl1|sec1_lnk3%26pLid%3D124694

  • LeaveMeBe

    Knowing this just makes it so much worse. What was that guy thinking of when he put embers in a trash bag? I know he must feel terrible, but his stupidity killed 5 people. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

  • No shit! Without at least watering them down or anything! Over a fictitious holiday tradition!

    What a waste.

  • misty powell

    one  word  insurance  fraud  thats  exactly  what  it  is

  • Shade reports that the mother made a suicide attempt last week.  the same article says the father of the three girls has hired a private investigator to look into the circumstances.  hmmmmmm.

  • Anonymous

    Madonna Badger, who lost three daughters and both parents in Christmas Day fire, tried to kill herself
    The tragic mom who lost her three young daughters and parents in a Christmas Day blaze in Connecticut tried to take her own life.
    Madonna Badger, one of only two survivors of the fire at her waterfront mansion in Stamford, was hospitalized last week after injuring herself in a bid to end her terrible personal pain, a relative confirmed to the Daily News.
    “She is okay. . . . She is out (of the hospital) and somewhere safe,” the relative said. “It’s just terrible — nobody could really hold up well under the circumstances.”
    The suicide attempt was first reported by CBS2 Wednesday night

  • Shade

    A guilty conscious is a bitch.

  • Whisper Wing

    Madonna Badger to teen who lost family in Texas shootings: Let love in
    — who lost her three daughters and parents in a deadly 2011 house fire —
    penned an open letter to Cassidy Stay after the 15-year-old’s younger
    siblings and parents were fatally shot inside their suburban Houston
    home. ‘And there is one thing that saved me,’ Badger wrote. ‘LOVE.’