A fire tore through the home of an advertising executive in a tony neighborhood along the Connecticut shoreline Sunday, killing her three children and both of her parents on Christmas morning.
Madonna Badger, who bought the large Victorian home last year, was able to get out of the house, along with an acquaintance.
Stamford Police Sgt. Paul Guzda said Badger's three daughters -- a 10-year-old and 7-year-old twins -- were killed. He said her parents, who were visiting for the holiday, also died. Police officers drove Badger's husband, Matthew Badger, from New York City to Stamford on Sunday morning.
Guzda said the male acquaintance was a contractor who was doing work on the home. Badger, an ad executive in the fashion industry, is the founder of Badger & Winters Group. A supervisor at Stamford Hospital said she was treated and discharged.
Neighbors awakened to the sound of screaming and rushed outside to help, but they could only watch in horror as flames devoured the grand home in the predawn darkness and the shocked, injured survivors were led away from the house.
"It is a terrible, terrible day," Mayor Michael Pavia told reporters at a news briefing at the scene of the fire. "There probably has not been a worse Christmas day in the city of Stamford."
The fire was reported shortly before 5 a.m. Firefighters were able to rescue Badger and another adult from the house in Shippan Point, a neighborhood that juts into Long Island Sound, Acting Fire Chief Antonio Conte said.
"We had our hands full from the moment we arrived on the scene," Conte said.
Firefighters knew there were other people in the home but could not get to them because the flames were too large and the heat too intense, Conte said, his voice cracking with emotion.
"It's never easy. That's for sure," he said. "I've been on this job 38 years not an easy day."
Conte said fire officials don't yet know the cause of the blaze and likely won't get clues for a few days until fire marshals can enter the structure.
A neighbor, Sam Cingari Jr., said he was awakened by the sound of screaming and saw that the house was engulfed by flames.
"We heard this screaming at 5 in the morning," he said. "The whole house was ablaze and I mean ablaze."
Stamford, a city of 117,000 residents, is about 25 miles northeast of New York City.
Also Sunday, authorities say a 4-year-old boy, his mother and a third person were found dead in a Christmas Eve fire at a vacant house in central Ohio.
The Columbus Fire Department said the blaze was reported shortly before midnight Saturday in the house on the city's west side. When firefighters reached the scene, neighbors reported that people might be inside.
Battalion Chief Michael Fowler said firefighters entered the home and found three people in a room engulfed in flames. They were identified Sunday as 22-year-old Jerrica Francisco, her son Deshawn Francisco and 33-year-old Demetrius Chappell.
Authorities were trying to determine Sunday if they lived in the house. Fowler did not know Chappell's relationship to the mother and child.