Connecticut Christmas Fire: Discarded Fireplace Embers Caused Blaze

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"The fire entered the house quickly and spread through the first floor and up," Callahan said.

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 were 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.

"That poor woman lost her whole family in one fell swoop," Conte said. "I can't imagine how that feels."

Conte said one fire captain suffered second degree burns on his face and two others suffered from smoke inhalation. Asked how his firefighters are coping in the aftermath of the tragedy, Conte replied, "Not very well."

"I have 70 firefighters that I've ordered back today for counseling," he said. "They're big, burly guys and to see them break down and the scene was too much to bear. It's really tough."

Psychologists and members of the Fire Department of New York are on hand to help with counseling, Conte said.

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