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Update: Officials said in a press conference that the tragic Christmas morning fire was an accident caused by fireplace embers that had been disposed of outside of the house.
Update: The cause of the fire that killed Madonna Badger‘s three children and parents was associated with a fireplace in the home, the Associated Press reported Tuesday. Michael Pavia, Mayor of Stamford, Conn., called the blaze “fireplace-related” and said foul play was ruled out. He did not reveal more details; the full results of the investigation were expected to be announced later Tuesday.
The fire that engulfed Madonna Badger‘s Stamford, Conn., home on Dec. 25. may have been started by airborne fireplace ashes, the New York Post reported.
The fashion industry ad executive lost her three daughters with husband Matthew Badger (with whom she’s in divorce proceedings), Lily , 9, and twins, Grace and Sarah, 7, as well as her parents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson, who lived in Southbury, Conn., in the blaze. Badger, the founder of NYC-based Badger & Winters Group, escaped along with a contractor who had been working on the $1.7 million, five-bedroom Victorian home on Long Island Sound. (See video here.)
As the tragedy sinks in for Badger, who is no doubt devastated beyond belief, an investigation is under way to find the cause of the fire. According to the Post, it could be related to some fireplace embers that had been left smoldering outside and picked up by the wind, setting the house ablaze.
Adding to the heartbreak: new details about Badger’s 71-year-old retired father, Lomer Johnson, who had just fulfilled his dream of playing Santa at Saks Fifth Avenue in New york City, and died in an apparent attempt to rescue one of his granddaughters.
“He had the little girl with him,” Stamford Fire Chief Antonio Conte said during a press conference on Monday.
Johnson — who recently retired from his job as a safety director at the Kentucky-based liquor maker Brown-Forman Corporation — was found face down on the roof, while the child was inside the window, the Post reported; the two other girls were discovered on the second floor, and Pauline, Badger’s mother, on a staircase between the second and third floors.
The waterfront house, located in Shippan Point, an affluent neighborhood on Long Island Sound, was purchased last year for $1.725 million; deemed a safety hazard, it was razed to the ground on Monday.
Badger’s ad company, which she founded in 1994, has worked with Proctor & Gamble, CoverGirl, A/X Armani Exchange, Emanuel Ungaro and Vera Wang. She is also credited with conceiving the now-iconic Mark Wahlberg (then Marky Mark) and Kate Moss underwear ads for Calvin Klein when working at their in-house advertising agency CRK. She also worked for Esquire magazine for a time.
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