A widowed mother of five died a hero after running into her burning home in Bakersfield, California, to save her children.
Kristina Stratton, a 38-year-old single mother, was outside her home with one of her daughters just before midnight on Feb. 7.
Seeing her house in flames, Stratton raced inside and tried to reach four of her children, who were sleeping upstairs.
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#caveinc @kerncountyfire and @BKFcityfire on scene of #structurefire on the 10100 block of Cave Ct.
The children woke up and were able to escape by jumping out a second-story window. They suffered minor to moderate injuries and were taken to the hospital.
Tragically, firefighters found Stratton dead inside the home.
Stratton’s husband, Eric Stratton, died from cancer in 2014, according to a GoFundMecampaign launched on behalf of the children.
Eric Stratton was the father of three of the children, who now have no living parents.
Pastor and family friend Angelo Frazier told KERO-TV that family and friends have tried to salvage what belongings they can from the Stratton home.
“It’s just unspeakable heartbreak to have to do something like that when you lose a loved one, so you can just imagine the raw emotions that are there,” Frazier said.
“She had a lot of people who loved her. She loved her kids, her family, God. She loved life. She was just that kind of person.”
All five children have moved in with Stratton’s sister, Sarah Parks, who is married with children.
“It sucks, but we have to be strong for the kids,” Parks told KBAK/KBFX. “Three of them don’t have no parents and the other ones have their dad that lives out of state.”
Parks said she and her husband intend to pursue legal guardianship of the children, who range in age from 6-17.
“My sister just did what any mom would do, protecting her children,” said Parks. “She’s my hero. I hope I could be half the woman she is.”
Community organizations are collecting clothing and gift cards on behalf of the family.
Monetary donations have been pouring in to assist with funeral expenses and to help Parks and her husband expand their home to accommodate five extra kids.
“She had a lot of people who loved her,” Frazier said. “She loved her kids, her family, God. She loved life. She was just that kind of person.”