MANHATTAN — A beloved Saks Fifth Avenue Santa Claus impersonator died trying to save his granddaughter from a deadly Christmas Day fire in Connecticut, the New York Post reported.
The blaze at the 100-year-old Stamford, Conn., house claimed the lives of five family members, including Lomer Johnson, who had played Santa at Saks Fifth Avenue on Christmas Eve and also visited the United Nations as St. Nick, the Post reported.
Johnson, 71, was discovered on the house's roof with, one of his granddaughters just inside the window. Authorities believe that Johnson died trying to save the girl, the Post reported.
Reports said authorities found the bodies of two other girls on the second floor. Johnson's wife, Pauline, was found dead in a staircase between the second and third floor.
Johnson and his wife were staying in the home while they visited their daughter, former Calvin Klein art director Madonna Badger, according to reports. Badger and her companion, contractor Michael Borcina, were the 5 a.m. fire's only survivors, the Post reported.
Badger was treated and released, and Borcina is in stable condition at a local hospital, the paper said.
Johnson had spent years as safety director for the Brown-Forman Corporation, the makers of Jack Daniel's. He had spent much of this holiday season impersonating Santa at the popular Midtown department store, along with a series of other Santa gigs, including one at the United Nations.
Officials could not immediately say what caused the blaze, but one police source told the Post that it may have been improperly disposed ashes from the family's Christmas Eve fire.