Windward School Students Perish in Christmas Fire

Stamford residents are struggling to make sense of a Christmas morning fire that killed five people, including three children who attended the lower school at Windward School in White Plains.


Tuesday, 5 a.m.

Four Stamford firefighters were injured while fighting Sunday morning's Shippan Ave. home fire, according to a report by the Connecticut Post.

Stamford Fire and Rescue has not released the name of the injured firefighters, however, the city will hold a Tuesday press conference at the Stamford Government Center to openly discuss details of the fire department's investigation into the cause of Sunday's tragedy.

As Southbury's Heritage Village  of Badger's parents Lomer and Pauline Johnson, staff of White Plains, N.Y.'s  understand that they will need to counsel classmates of the three child fatalities when students return to school on Jan. 6. 

Madonna Badger has not yet made a public appearance.

Monday, 4 p.m.

A Facebook page supporting Madonna Badger has been set up at:


Thank you to Stamford Patch reader Paige Bludhorn.

Monday, 12:30 p.m.

The day after a Christmas morning house fire on Shippan Avenue in Stamford killed five people, including three young children, a mother visiting the remains of the home with her two children whispered to them as she walked back to her car, "This is very sad, very tragic."

The house, once a $1.725 million, five-bedroom home for Madonna Badger and her family, was demolished early Monday morning.

"It's sad. I know how it feels because I've got kids of my own, and I've been in the fire service for 20 years. I haven't been in many 'fatals', but I know what it's like to be in a fatal," veteran firefighter Earl Cecire said. Cecire, who was a Stamford firefighter for many years like his father, was at the incident site with his mother, Georgeanna Cecire.

"My husband was chief of Glenbrook for 12 years...I've seen fires, but not like this before. This one's really bad," Georgeanna Cecire said.

While police and firefighters are now a scant presence at 2267 Shippan Ave., individuals as far as North Stamford came to pay their respects.

"It's very, very shocking," said one Stamford resident, having ventured from downtown to Shippan. 

Active firefighters, such as Patch blogger and volunteer fire official Stephen Gladstone, have expressed as much surprise and remorse as Stamford's residents. Volunteers from Belltown, Sound Beach, and Glenbrook were called in for standby to respond to the fire, but according to Gladstone, were not called to the scene.

An investigation into the cause of yesterday's fire is ongoing, according to Stamford Fire and Rescue. 

Original Story

Fire officials are still investigating the cause of a massive Christmas morning house fire on Shippan Avenue in Stamford that claimed the lives of three children and their grandparents.

The survivors are the homeowner and mother of the children, Madonna Badger, a prominent ad executive, and a male acquaintance.

Stamford police Sgt. Paul Guzda said Badger was taken to Stamford Hospital and suffered no critical injuries.

One eyewitness and neighbor told the Stamford Advocate Badger was in a state of complete shock in the aftermath of the fire, hearing her say, "My whole life is in there."

Charles Mangano also told the Advocate the male friend, now widely identified as contractor Michael Borcina, was also so distraught that as he was taken away from the fire the man, in his 40s, appeared almost "feeble."

The early morning blaze destroyed the large Victorian home at 2267 Shippan Ave. in the waterfront Shippan Point neighborhood. Badger purchased the home for for $1.725 million last December. The children's father, Matthew Badger, lives in Manhattan. The couple is divorced.

Neighbors scrambled to dial 911 as flames consumed the home, which was in a state of renovation, something fire officials don't believe is the initial cause of the fire but may be a contributing factor of some sort.

Firefighters worked desperately to save the children, 10 and two 7-year-old twins, and the children's maternal grandparents, but the flames were too intense.

"It's never easy. That's for sure," Acting Fire Chief Antonio Conte told the Advocate on Christmas."I've been on this job 38 years ... not an easy day."

Guzda told Patch the investigation will be lead by Stamford assistant fire marshal of Stamford Fire and Rescue.

Badger's parents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson, lived about an hour away in Southbury, Connecticut.

An unidentified family member spoke to The New York Times, noting the Johnsons were to celebrate their 49th wedding anniversary Monday.

They moved here from Kentucky to be closer to their grandchildren. 

Lomer Johnson had just completed a job to which he was particularly well-suited, the friend told the Times, as Santa Claus at Saks Fifth Avenue, complete with a jolly outlook and striking white beard.

A neighbor of the Johnsons in Southbury, Leo Ditkoff, saw Lomer Johnson just last Thursday at the annual Christmas party at Heritage Village, the condo complex where they both lived.

“I sat right next to Lomer just last week,” he said. “I didn’t know him well, but when he sat down I looked at his big white beard and told him he should play Santa Claus. He looked back at me and said ‘Ho, Ho, Ho, I do.”

Don Milot, who lives in the building adjacent to the Johnsons said he was very saddened to hear the news. He said he didn’t know the couple very well and they had not lived in Heritage Village very long.

“How awful it is,” he said. “Especially something like this to happen on Christmas, just horrible.”

* This article originated from Stamford Patch. Southbury Patch editor Dan DeBlasio contributed to this report.

Shelly Boyle December 29, 2011 at 12:58 AM
This is so tragic. We should all appreciate our families and our lives. There are no words that can comfort this poor mother.
Dina Sciortino December 29, 2011 at 02:20 PM
Agree Shelly, thank you.


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