STAMFORD—The day before a funeral for three sisters killed in a Christmas morning fire in Stamford, the family issued a statement of thanks for compassion after what they called "an unbearable tragedy."
"The incredible outpouring of love and compassion that has come from our community and around the world has been amazing, and has touched us deeply through this unbearable tragedy," said the statement, read by family friend Kate Askew after the Manhattan wake for 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah Badger and their 10-year-old sister Lily, who died in the fire on Shippan Avenue.
Their grandparents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson were also killed in the blaze, which officials are still investigating.
The girls' mother, Madonna Badger, an ad executive in the fashion industry, escaped the fire along with a friend, Michael Borcina.
Fire officials said Borcina is believed to have placed ashes from the fireplace in or outside an entryway of the house in the Shippan Point neighborhood. The embers were removed so the children wouldn't worry about Santa Claus' descent down the chimney, the Associated Press reported this week.
The grandparents, who lived in Southbury, were visiting for the holiday. Lomer Johnson had worked as a Santa at Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan as recently as Christmas Eve.
Borcina is a contractor and was doing work on the large Victorian home, which Badger bought in 2010 for $1.72 million.
The house was uninhabitable and was razed Dec. 26.
"Matthew, Madonna and the entire Badger and Johnson families would like to thank everyone for the support they have received," Askew said.
"The family also wishes to thank the fire department of Stamford, rescue workers and health care providers for their heroic efforts along with the support of the community of Shippan, mayor and city of Stamford and the state of Connecticut.
"The family is here to privately remember, mourn and honor their beloved Lily, Sarah and Grace as well as Lomer and Pauline Johnson. It is an incredibly difficult time for all of us."
The funeral for the three girls will be held at St. Thomas Church in Manhattan at 10:30 a.m. Thursday.