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Connecticut Christmas Fire: Fireplace Embers Caused Blaze

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(STAMFORD, Conn.) -- The Christmas morning fire at a Connecticut home that killed three girls and their grandparents was started by fireplace embers that had been cleared out of the fireplace and put in either a mud room attached to the house or a trash enclosure next to the mud room, fire officials said Tuesday.

It is unclear whether there were smoke alarms in the house, which was in the middle of an extensive renovation.

The fire began sometime after 3 a.m. while the occupants of the house were asleep.

"The fire entered the house quickly and spread through the first floor and up," Stamford Chief Fire Marshal Barry Callahan told reporters at a news conference.

The fire quickly engulfed the home and neighbors called 911 at 4:52 a.m. to report the fire. The fire department responded within six minutes, but was unable to rescue the five people trapped in the house.

Lomer Johnson, his wife Pauline Johnson and their three granddaughters, Lily, 10, and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah, were killed in the fire. The couple's daughter Madonna Badger, the mother of the girls, survived along with her friend and contractor Michael Borcina.

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