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No criminal charges in Christmas fire that killed 5 in Connecticut

Tina Fineberg / AP

Five people were killed in a fire at this house on Christmas Day in Stamford, Conn.

The Connecticut state attorney has determined that no criminal charges should be filed in connection with a fire in Stamford on Christmas Day that killed a couple and their three granddaughters.

“This is not a decision made easily or lightly. In a tragedy of this magnitude, it is understandable that both the people affected by it personally and the public at large need to find that someone is responsible, that it is not just a senseless accident," David Cohen, the state’s attorney, stated in a report released Friday morning.

"However, my determination must be based solely on whether there is sufficient evidence to hold someone criminally responsible," he added.


The two other people present in the house when the fire broke out, the children's mother and her boyfriend, were able to escape.

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In his report, Cohen said the investigation was hampered by actions of some Stamford officials.

He said the local fire marshal should have notified the State Fire Marshal’s Office and given them an opportunity to assist with the investigation, so that a second opinion about the cause and origin of the fire could be obtained. 

Man died trying to save granddaughter in Conn. fire

Cohen also recommended that both the Police Department and the State’s Attorney’s Office be consulted before any demolition is authorized and carried out.

Sometime between 3 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. on Christmas Day, Michael Borcina, who is described as the mother's boyfriend, is believed to have put fireplace ashes in a bag and left it either in or outside a mudroom and trash enclosure attached to the rear of the house, said Barry Callahan, Stamford's fire marshal. The fire was reported just after 4:40 a.m.

"The fire entered the house quickly and spread throughout the first floor and up two interior vertical openings, trapping the occupants on the upper floors," Callahan said.

There were plans for hard-wired smoke alarms, but they had not been hooked up, an official said. The home was demolished soon after the fire because of the damage and safety concerns.

Smoke detectors inside a Stamford, Conn., home where five people were killed in a Christmas morning fire may not have been working, investigators say. NBC's Craig Melvin reports.

"I am aware that many have emotionally judged this circumstance differently. That is understandable. There is no way that I could begin to conceive of the depth of loss by the Badger family,” Cohen wrote.

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"However, where so much is unknown or in dispute, where the facts are inconclusive and where the safety of the public will not be enhanced, I have decided to exercise the discretion given to me by our State constitution and by my oath of office and decline, at this time, to prosecute,” he concluded.

Lomer Johnson, the children's grandfather, had appeared as Santa at Saks Fifth Avenue's flagship store in Manhattan. His daughter, homeowner Madonna Badger, a New York City ad executive, survived along with Borcina, who was staying with her while helping remodel the Victorian house.

Hundreds gather for funeral for 3 girls killed in fire

The girls' father, Matthew Badger, started a project that supports underfunded elementary school arts programs in memory of his daughters.

NBCConnecticut.com contributed to this report.

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