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Stamford Police Join Fire Investigation

STAMFORD, Conn. — Stamford police have been asked to step in and assist Stamford’s fire marshals in the investigation of the Christmas Day fire that took the lives of five people.

“We’re trying to answer a lot of questions,” said Capt. Richard Conklin , commander of the Bureau of Criminal Investigations. The department will specifically look into whether there were working smoke detectors, the renovations going on at the house and other areas that the fire marshals have not yet probed, he said.

Police will conduct interviews, canvass the neighborhood and run forensic tests to gain a better understanding of what started the tragic fire, Conklin said. The department's experience in running investigations will help determine answers that the fire marshals have not yet found.

“This is what we do all the time. They only do it sometimes,” Conklin said of the fire marshals' investigators.

The fire started sometime after 3 a.m., when Michael Borcina, a friend of homeowner Madonna Badger , took embers out of the fireplace and disposed of them in the rear of the house, either near the mudroom or trash area, the chief fire marshal said last week. The Shippan home then went up in flames, prompting neighbors to call Stamford Fire & Rescue just before 5 a.m. Christmas Day.

Borcina and Badger made it out of the home. But Badger’s daughters, Lilly, 10, and twins Sarah and Grace, 7, as well as her parents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson, died of smoke inhalation. Lomer Johnson also suffered head and neck trauma, apparently while attempting to rescue one of the girls, Acting Fire Chief Antonio Conte said.

Conklin said it is too early in the police investigation to tell whether foul play played a role in the fire.

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