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Dad sues ex’s lover, city after fatal Christmas fire

STAMFORD, Conn. — The father of the three girls killed in a Christmas morning house fire has sued the city, his ex-wife’s contractor boyfriend and several others who did work on the home, saying they all had roles into making it into a “firetrap.”

Matthew Badger’s lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Superior Court, alleges that contractor Michael Borcina failed to install a smoke detection system while doing renovations on the $1.7 million Victorian house in Stamford. Borcina escaped the blaze along with the girls’ mother.

The lawsuit alleges that Borcina was to oversee installation of a hard-wired smoke detection system after beginning renovations at the three-story waterfront home but failed to complete the project as scheduled in April 2011 and left the ground floor without heating.

“The girls died before they could escape the home, which had become a firetrap as a result of months of substandard construction leading up to the fire,” according to the lawsuit, which was first reported by the Stamford Advocate.

The lawsuit also says city officials knew or should have known that Borcina served as the home’s general contractor but didn’t have a state home improvement contractor’s license.

Borcina’s criminal attorney, Eugene Riccio, said Thursday that another attorney was being hired to handle the civil case. Stamford’s director of legal affairs, Joseph Capalbo, declined to comment.

The home’s architect, electrician and general contractor listed on the building permit were included as defendants.

Last month, Stamford State’s Attorney David Cohen said he found no criminal negligence in investigating the fire, which has been blamed on a bag of fireplace ashes that had been discarded in a mudroom.

The fire killed 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah Badger, 9-year-old Lily Badger, and their maternal grandparents, Lomer and Pauline Johnson.

The grandparents’ estates have notified the city of their intent to sue.

The girls’ mother, Madonna Badger, told NBC’s “Today” show the bag of ashes didn’t seem dangerous because Borcina ran his hands over them before putting them on top of a plastic bin.



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