STAMFORD, Conn. — A fire swept through an advertising executive's Victorian home along the Connecticut shoreline, killing her three children and her parents.
Madonna Badger and a male acquaintance were able to escape from the house as it was engulfed by flames on Christmas morning, said Stamford Police Sgt. Paul Guzda. But Badger's three daughters — a 10-year-old and 7-year-old twins — died in the fire, Guzda said.
He said Badger's parents, who were visiting for the holiday, also perished in the blaze.
Neighbors said they awoke to the sound of screaming shortly before 5 a.m. and rushed outside to help, but they could only watch in horror as flames devoured the grand home and the shocked, injured survivors were led away from the house.
Badger, an ad executive in the fashion industry, is the founder of New York City-based Badger & Winters Group. A supervisor at Stamford Hospital said she was treated and discharged by Sunday evening.
Property records show she bought the five-bedroom, waterfront home for $1.7 million last year. The house is situated in Shippan Point, a wealthy neighborhood that juts into Long Island Sound.
The male acquaintance who also escaped the blaze was a contractor who was doing work on the home, Guzda said. He was also hospitalized but his condition was not released.
"It is a terrible, terrible day," Mayor Michael Pavia told reporters at the scene of the fire. "There probably has not been a worse Christmas day in the city of Stamford."
Police officers drove Badger's husband, Matthew Badger, from New York City to Stamford on Sunday morning.
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, said Acting Fire Chief Antonio Conte, 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 would not get clues for a few days until fire marshals can enter the structure and examine it.
Stamford, a city of 117,000 residents, is about 25 miles northeast of New York City.
Badger was the creative mind behind major advertising campaigns for leading fashion brands, including the iconic Marky Mark underwear ads for Calvin Klein.
Raised in Kentucky, Badger began her career working as a graphic designer in the art department of Esquire magazine. Before starting her own company, she worked as an art director for several magazines and CRK, the in-house advertising agency for designer Calvin Klein.
Badger & Winters has worked with Proctor & Gamble, CoverGirl, A/X Armani Exchange, Emanuel Ungaro and Vera Wang, among other high-profile corporations. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment Sunday.