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Mary Altaffer, Associated Press
Madonna Badger, center, and Matthew Badger, right, react as the caskets carrying the bodies of their daughters, 9-year-old Lily Badger and 7-year-old twins Grace and Sarah Badger are placed in the hearse after their funeral service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church Thursday, Jan. 5, 2012 in New York. Hundreds of people streamed into the historic church in the heart of Manhattan on Thursday for the funeral of three young girls who died along with their grandparents during a Christmas morning fire in Stamford, Conn.

NEW YORK — The mother of three young girls who died during a Christmas morning fire along with their grandparents told mourners that the girls live in her heart now.

Madonna Badger's voice broke Thursday as she spoke at their funeral: "My girls are in my heart. They're right here. And that's where they live now."

Badger wailed as she followed the three coffins out of the church. She was accompanied by her estranged husband, Matthew Badger.

The pallbearers were 18 firefighters from Stamford, Conn., who responded to the fire. More than 500 people attended the funeral service in New York City.

Authorities say embers in a bag of discarded fireplace ashes started the deadly blaze. The girls' mother, Madonna Badger, escaped the fire along with a friend, Michael Borcina. Badger's parents were also killed.