A 12-year-old girl whose grandparents died in theChristmas Day fire in Connecticut that also claimed the lives of her three cousins has written a poem about her grandmother, whom she called Nana.
Morgan Johnson's poem is titled "The Nana Who Lived in the Car" because Johnson's late grandmother, Pauline Johnson, had told the girl that she felt like the old woman who lived in a car -- instead of the storybook woman who lived in a shoe -- because she spent so much time driving between family houses.
"Three of them now play in Heaven, And the Nana drives them around in her car there, With a stuffed animal bunny and a G," wrote Morgan, who lives in Kentucky.
Morgan called her grandfather, Lomer Johnson, "G." Before his death, Lomer Johnson had fulfilled a life-long dream of playing Santa Claus at New York City's Saks Fifth Avenue, at the encouragement of his granddaughters.
"She had four granddaughters, Who loved them so, The Nana the bunny and the G," she wrote. "She ate and cooked foods of all different kinds, And had a very kind and pretty mind."
Johnson's three other granddaughters, Lily, 10, and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah were killed in the fire. The only survivors were the girls' mother, Madonna Badger, and her friend, Michael Borcina, a contractor who had been working on the home.
"That poor woman lost her whole family in one fell swoop," Stamford Interim Fire Chief Antonio Conte said at a news conference Tuesday. "I can't imagine how that feels."
The fire began sometime after 3 a.m. Dec. 25 while the occupants of the house were asleep. Officials said the fire was started by fireplace embers that had been cleared out of the fireplace and put in either a mud room attached to the house or a trash enclosure next to it.
It is unclear whether there were smoke alarms in the house, which was in the middle of an extensive renovation.
The Connecticut medical examiner said that the five family members died of smoke inhalation and that Lomer Johnson also suffered from blunt head and neck trauma, which may have been the result of a fall he took when he stepped out a second-floor window onto a roof in an attempt to save one of his granddaughters.
Johnson had apparently found one of the girls and led her to a second-floor window.
"He had actually made it outside the structure. He had gone through a window in the rear," Conte said.
Johnson apparently sat the girl on a pile of books next to the window so that he would be able to step outside and then pull her out of the house. But when he stepped out on the roof, he fell face down between two beams that had been covered with a material not strong enough to hold his weight.
"It looks like she was placed on the books so he could get her from outside," Conte said. "When he stepped out that window, his life ended."
The girl's body was later found, still sitting on the books. Another one of the children was later found on the third floor and the other was found on a second-floor stairwell landing with her grandmother.
Officials this week described the panic in the house during the fire and desperate attempts by Johnson, Badger and Borcina to save the girls.
The Stamford Fire Department released tapes on Thursday of firefighters' radio transmissions from inside the house, as reported by ABC News' New York affiliate WABC.
"We have victims trapped on the second floor, we're going to rescue mode with a ladder," a firefighter can be heard saying. "We've got a report from one of the victims, there's people in that window."
Firefighters struggled as they were repeatedly met by walls of fire in the house, forcing them back. The flames and smoke engulfing the house were too strong for them to reach the family members.
"You have heavy fire right above your head -- back out, back out!" a firefighter said. "All units on the interior, all units on the interior, back out. Back out!"
The house was torn down after being deemed unsafe by fire officials.
Morgan Johnson's full poem is printed below:
"The Nana Who Lived in a Car"
There once was a Nana who lived in a car
She traveled so very, very far
With a bunny and a G.
She traveled to places cold and hot
To where it was sunny and where it was not
With a bunny and a G
She ate and cooked foods of all different kinds
And had a very kind and pretty mind
And so did the bunny and the G
She had four granddaughters
Who loved them so
The Nana the bunny and the G
Three of them now play in Heaven
And the Nana drives them around in her car there
With a stuffed animal bunny and a G.
- Society & Culture/Disasters & Accidents
- Society & Culture
- Pauline Johnson