Embers from a holiday Yule log may have triggered the horrific fire that killed the three young daughters and parents of a Connecticut advertising executive on Christmas Day. Madonna Badger, 47, was up until 3am with her boyfriend, wrapping gifts and making Christmas morning preparations; the two put embers from a Yule log burned that evening into a bucket, placed it inside the entryway of the home, and went to bed, sources tell the New York Daily News. In another heartbreaking detail, Badger's 71-year-old father, Lomer Johnson, apparently made it out, then went back to try to rescue the girls, and very nearly pulled one of his granddaughters from a window of the house. But he collapsed and died from carbon monoxide poisoning just inches from the girl, who also perished. “He died on the outside, and she died on the inside," Stamford's fire chief said. "She was right next to him."
Badger repeatedly tried to rescue her girls but was driven back by the flames. She was finally placed onto a stretcher and taken to a nearby hospital by emergency workers. One fire captain who jumped through a window into the inferno had to be rescued by colleagues. Lily, 10, her 7-year-old twin sisters, Sarah and Grace, and Lomer and his wife, Pauline—who were to celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary yesterday—all died. "I can't imagine what she's going through," said a retired fire captain, referring to Badger. "This is the worst tragedy I've ever seen."