NBC New York
A private wake was held in Manhattan Wednesday to say goodbye to the three young sisters and their grandparents killed in a Christmas Day fire early Christmas morning. Their mother and father arrived separately, somber and silent. Katy Tur reports.
Nine days after the tragic Christmas Day fire in Stamford, friends and family streamed into an Upper East Side funeral home Wednesday to say goodbye to the three young girls and their two grandparents killed in the blaze.
The girls' mother, New York City advertising executive Madonna Badger, silently entered the Frank E. Campbell Funeral Home dressed in mourning black. In addition to her three daughters -- 10-year-old Lily and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah -- Badger's parents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson, also died in the fire.
Badger and her friend Michael Borcina were the only survivors of the fire, attributed to a bag of smoldering ash and embers left in a first-floor mudroom. Officials told the Associated Press Tuesday the girls wanted the ash out of the fireplace so that Santa Claus could come through the chimney.
Badger's estranged husband and the girls' father, Matthew Badger, was seen walking into the funeral home Wednesday, but he did not speak to reporters. His brother Campbell Badger told the Associated Press last week the devoted father was devastated by the loss of his children.
Mayor Bloomberg attended the wake in the evening, hours after he was in Albany for Gov. Cuomo's State of the State speech. Stamford firefighters also appeared at the funeral home.
Stamford Fire Chief Antonio Conte said it was difficult to find closure. "When you see those little caskets, it wasn't there," he said. "I don't know if it will ever come."
Family friend Kate Askew read a statement after the wake thanking the community for their love and support.
The wake Wednesday was private. A public funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Manhattan.
A foundation has been developed in the girls' honor, called The Other 364 Foundation, "whose mission is to champion compassion every day of the year," according to a blurb on badgerandwinters.com.
Checks may be made out to:
The Other 364 Foundation
c/o Badger & Winters Group
135 Fifth Avenue 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10010
Notes may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.