December 5, 2020

Old fireplace embers caused deadly fire

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STAMFORD, Conn. (AP) — Two of the little sisters who died in a furious house fire early Christmas morning lost their way as a family friend tried to lead them to safety. Their other sister died just feet from escape, trapped inside as her grandfather perished during his rescue attempt. Outside, their mother frantically tried to direct firefighters to her doomed family.

Authorities on Tuesday described that chaotic scene of frantic, futile attempts to save the three girls and their grandparents after embers in a bag of discarded fireplace ashes started the accidental fire at the grand waterfront house, which was being renovated.

“We are devastated, just like everybody else is devastated,” said Brendan Keatley, a Stamford firefighter who was at the scene.

Of the seven people in the home, there were only two survivors: the girls’ mother, a New York City fashion advertising executive; and a family friend who had worked on the home as a contractor and, according to firefighters, is believed to have placed the ashes in or outside an entryway, near the trash.

Flames quickly entered the house, spread throughout the first floor and licked upstairs, trapping the girls, the grandparents, the mother and the contractor, the city fire marshal said.

That’s when screams began to wake the neighborhood, soon followed by the whine of fire engines.

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