By Debbie Emery – Radar Reporter
America was touched by the heartbreaking images of Madonna Badger sobbing as she said her final goodbyes to her family at the funerals of her three children and parents last week, and now RadarOnline.com has exclusive details of the devoted mom’s fight to save them from the deadly fire that destroyed her Connecticut home.
“She was pretty hysterical and extremely emotional,” Assistant Fire Chief Peter Brown of the Stamford Fire Department told RadarOnline.com in an exclusive interview. “She was trying to get back into the house, they had to physically stop her from going into the house and back up the ladder.”
As Radar previously reported, investigators believe the blaze started from yule log embers that Badger and her boyfriend Michael Borcina placed in the back foyer in a bag.
Lily Badger, 10, and her seven-year-old twin sisters Sarah and Grace were killed in the tragic incident, along with their grandparents Lomer Johnson, 71, and Pauline Johnson.
Badger and Borcina have not been interviewed by investigators since the night of the tragedy as officials were giving them time to mourn their loved ones and conduct the multiple services, explained Brown.
“It is an ongoing investigation,” he said, but added that “the preliminary cause was accidental and that is the way it will be expected to stay.”
The Badger family and their loved ones are not the only people struggling to cope with the devastation that the blaze left in its path, as many of the firefighters who were called to the emergency have to cope with the stress of losing people they were there to save.
“Our main goal is to protect lives and property. We are out there helping people, and 99 percent of the time we are successful to some degree,” revealed the fire chief. “For our firefighters, the outcome was already determined before they came on the scene so it was very frustrating for them.
“Added to that, there were children involved and it was Christmas, so there was a great emotional impact for us to deal with something so beyond our control.”
As Brown went on to explain, the fire destroyed the $1.7 million home so quickly that it was too late to save the family.
“The fire was burning out of control when we got there,” he said. “It got a good head start without anyone knowing about it,” and then ripped through the historic 115-year-old house because it was made of old dried-out wood and built before there were fire stops.
“It spread quickly inside the walls and into the house.”
Counselors were brought in to talk with the firefighters to help them cope with the stress of what they helplessly witnessed on Christmas Eve as Badger wailed and screamed, “My babies! My babies!”
“They felt they couldn’t perform the service of rescuing the occupants despite a very aggressive attempt.”
Brown explained that investigators assume Badger and Borcina escaped by climbing out through a window and onto the wrap-around porch.
Tragically, Badger’s father, Lomer Johnson was trying to get one of the girls out through another window but fell through the roof rafters.
“They found him outside of the window, he fell and died of blunt force trauma. The children were inside the house,” revealed Brown.
50 fire fighters from Stamford joined Badger and her family at last Thursday’s memorial in Manhattan, where the fashion executive gave a moving eulogy for her perished children.