STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — An uncle of three girls killed with their grandparents in a Christmas morning house fire said Wednesday family members are devastated by the tragedy but comforted by each other and an outpouring of public sympathy.
Campbell Badger said that his brother Matthew Badger was devoted to his daughters. He says their family appreciates the prayers and support it has received.
“Matthew is devastated,” Campbell Badger said Wednesday. “He’s doing as best as can be expected under the circumstances.”
Matthew Badger hasn’t commented publicly since 10-year-old Lily and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah died of smoke inhalation along with their mother’s parents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson.
Lomer Johnson also suffered a blunt head and neck trauma, which could have resulted from a fall or being hit by an object, according to the medical examiner.
Matthew Badger and the girls’ mother, Madonna Badger, are divorcing, and he was not at the home when it was engulfed by flames.
Authorities say embers in a bag of discarded fireplace ashes started the blaze.
Madonna Badger, an advertising executive and the home’s owner, escaped from the fire, as did Michael Borcina, a friend and contractor working on the house. Borcina was released from a hospital on Wednesday morning, a spokeswoman said.
As flames shot from the three-story home, Madonna Badger climbed out a window onto scaffolding, screaming for her children and pointing to the third floor.
Firefighters went into the house twice trying to rescue the victims but were forced out by the blaze’s intensity.
Borcina and Lomer Johnson, a department store Santa Claus who spent a long career as safety and security director for a Louisville, Ky.-based liquor company, tried to save them, as well. One of the girls, found dead just inside a window, had been placed on a pile of books, apparently so Johnson could reach in and grab her after he jumped out.
Instead, authorities say, Johnson fell through the roof outside the window and was found dead in the rear of the house. He and his wife, both of Southbury, had been visiting their daughter for the holidays.
The Department of Consumer Protection said its records show neither Borcina nor his company, Tiberias Construction Inc., are currently registered to perform home improvement work in Connecticut. Registration is required by state law and provides certain contractual rights to the consumer, according to the department.
“We do not yet have enough information about what work was being done or had been completed,” the agency said. “We will address the pertinent regulatory issues in due course.”
Campbell Badger said his nieces were “wonderful, delightful energetic children.”
“They were loved tremendously by their mother and their father, who always put their kids first,” he said.
He said his brother, a television commercial director who lives in New York, was involved in all aspects of his daughters’ lives and played all types of games and activities with them, including soccer, rollerblading and painting.
He said the Johnson and Badger families are grateful for the public support, which has included floral bouquets, stuffed animals and candles left by passers-by at the site of the torn-down Victorian home.
“We are really touched,” he said. “Everyone wants to help in any way they can. We feel it, and it’s remarkable.”
More Related Stories
- Journalists file suit against Manning trial secrecy
- Russia: Syrian regime ready to participate in peace talks
- Report: Nearly a quarter of all Americans struggle to afford food
- Ted Cruz against the world
- Louie Gohmert: Women should be forced to carry nonviable pregnancies to term
- 2 men arrested for endangering commercial aircraft
- Oversized load blamed for bridge collapse
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Iran hackers aiming at U.S. energy firms
- Lawyers release data in attempt to discredit Trayvon Martin
- Anonymous rallies behind Kaitlyn Hunt
- Bridge collapse: Part of "aging infrastructure"
- Mistrial in penalty phase of Arias case
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Interstate 5 bridge collapses north of Seattle
- Mississippi could begin prosecuting women for miscarriages
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- UK Military: London attack victim was a "model soldier"
- Billionaire hedge funder: Babies, breast-feeding "kill" focus, keep women from succeeding
- "Bookless library" set to open in Texas
- 2 more arrested in London attacks
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11