Madonna Badger woke up on Christmas to a smoke-filled room, but no alarm had gone off, she tells Today in her first public interview since the fire that killed her kids and parents. "It was the scariest silence," she says in a conversation with Matt Lauer that's as heart-wrenching as you might expect. After climbing out the window and arriving by her parents' window, "I had to decide, 'Do I go in and save them? Or do I go save my children?'" she says. "And so I ran the other way to save my children."
There was scaffolding barring her from her kids' room; she "scrambled up" it to a daughter's window. "I opened that window and the smoke that hit me. It was just the blackest, like an ocean," Badger says. Her boyfriend fell out a nearby window and called the girls to jump to him, but to no avail. "It's impossible to describe how it is that you can't go in and save your own children. But I couldn't get through that smoke. I couldn't," says a sobbing Badger. "If I could have seen them, I would have gone in."