— Madonna Badger, the Connecticut woman who tragically lost her three young girls and her parents in a house fire on Christmas Day, speaks about the ordeal in an exclusive interview with Matt Lauer that will air on TODAY Thursday.
In the early hours of Christmas morning, a fire engulfed the family’s $1.7 million Victorian home in Stamford, Conn. The blaze claimed the lives of 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah and 10-year-old Lily, as well as the children’s grandparents.
Badger, a fashion executive, is now planning to sue the city of Stamford for property damage, personal injury and civil rights violations, saying the city did not give her notice or properly compensate her when it demolished the remains of her home, according to a report by the Associated Press.
During the interview with Lauer, a tearful Badger recounts the moment firefighters pulled her away as she tried to get back into the burning house to save her children.
“My teeth were black and my mouth was black from the smoke,’’ she said. “They took me away quickly because they were worried about smoke inhalation. Evidently, something can happen to you, [so] they said I had to go right away.
“I begged and begged them. There was an ambulance, and the walkie-talkies are going on, and I’m yelling at them, ‘Where are my kids? Where are my babies?’
“Somebody said, ‘Turn off the radios, turn off the radios!’ I knew they must’ve ... I don’t know what happened. Something really bad.’’
Badger also talks with Lauer about how the blaze could have started. Authorities have blamed the fire on a bag of fireplace ashes discarded in a mudroom by Badger’s friend, Michael Borcina, but Badger disagrees with that theory.
“I don’t believe that the ashes started the fire,” she told Lauer.
“The wind blew ashes out onto the hearth, and so we were cleaning up,” Badger explained. “I watched him take them with his hand, the shovel, and put ‘em into the bag. And then take his — I watched him put his hands in the bag ... to make sure that there's nothing on fire in the bag.”
“And you watched him do that?” Lauer asked.
“Oh yeah,” Badger said.
Badger and Borcina managed to escape the blaze. Badger said she does not blame Borcina for starting the fire or doing anything negligent.
In the interview, Badger also talks with Lauer about how she’s been coping since Christmas Day.
“A day at a time,” she said. “I mean, there’s really no way — every day I wake up and I have to remember, you know? So every day I have to go through that day. And then another day starts. So really it’s just one day at a time.”
Badger’s full interview with Lauer with air Thursday on “Rock Center with Brian Williams” at 10 p.m. ET.