(STAMFORD, Conn.) — Three young girls and their grandparents were killed in a three-alarm house fire in an exclusive neighborhood of Stamford, Conn., early Christmas morning, as the girls’ mother tried in vain to save them, authorities said.
The mother of the girls is fashion consultant Madonna Badger, who created the Mark Wahlberg Calvin Klein underwear ads.
“Mom and her male friend were trying desperately to get the children’s bedrooms,” Stamford Police Sgt. Paul Guzda told ABC News on Sunday. “They were trying to break windows. Mom was actually up on a roof that extends from the house, trying to break the window.”
Guzda said Badger and her “male acquaintance” are in the hospital, but she didn’t appear to be severely physical injured.
Two of the girls were seven years old and their older sister was 10-years-old, according to police.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I tell you — to get that call in the early morning hours, to hear that there’s a fatal fire, that’s bad enough. But then when you hear it on Christmas morning, that three little children like this perished in a fire…it’s beyond words,” Guzda said.
“To say it’s tragic,” he said, “is an understatement.”
“There probably has not been a worse Christmas Day in the city of Stamford,” said Mayor Michael Pavia.
Officials said the fire started at about 5 a.m. and that smoke was still present at the scene as firefighters surveyed the area at 9:30 a.m.
A neighbor said he woke up to the sound of screaming, only to see the house engulfed by flames, ABC News New York station WABC-TV reported.
“It was a male voice, and it was just, ‘help, help me,’” neighbor Charles Mangano said.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Laura Smith-Spark, Erin McLaughlin and Nina dos Santos, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN
Joe Sterling and Cassandra Santiago, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN