A California mother of five has died after attempting to rescue her children from a house fire. Kristina Stratton was out at a movie with her older daughter when she received the nightmarish call that her family home in Bakersfield was on fire — worse still, her children were trapped inside.
With first responders on their way to the address, Stratton sped back and, without any hesitation, rushed inside the smoke-filled house. Tragically, in the chaos of the situation, the mother did not notice that her children had already started to escape the flames through an upstairs window, as reported by the Bakersfield Californian.
Heartbreakingly, the brave mom never made it out — her body was discovered next to the family dog, who reportedly alerted the kids to the flames by biting one of their arms.
“My sister just did what any mom would do, protecting her children. She’s my hero. I hope I could be half the woman she is,” said Stratton’s sister, Sarah Parks, according to BakersFieldNow.com.
The children managed to escape relatively unscathed by jumping onto an RV below but were admitted to hospital as a precaution.
“Four minors living in the home were able to evacuate the home and suffered minor to moderate injuries from smoke inhalation,” the Kern County Fire Department said in a statement. “All four minors were treated and transported to a local hospital by Hall Ambulance. Firefighters from Kern County Fire Department and Bakersfield City Fire Department continued the search for other potential patients while extinguishing the fire.”
Almost inconceivably, Kristina lost her husband to cancer four years ago, with whom she had her first three children. As a result, the youngest trio of kids are now orphaned. According to Parks, the father of Stratton’s oldest two children lives in a different state.
In response to the tragedy, Interim Fire Chief David Witt issued a statement expressing his condolences and reminding the public of some vital fire safety precautions.
“House fires are somewhat common,” he wrote. “We have to be vigilant, as families, to prepare and practice what needs to be done before, during and even after a fire.”
A message from Interim Fire Chief David Witt:
“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,” family friend and local pastor, Angelo Frazier, told KERO-TV.
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the family as they recover from such a devastating event. Stratton’s sister, Sarah Parks, will now take on legal guardianship for the children.
“The proceeds of this page will go to Sarah Parks who has legal guardianship of the kids,” the page reads. “She said the money is going to cover the service/burial and to take care of the kids. They are planning on adding bedrooms to their house to make more rooms for the kids. She also talked about setting up savings accounts for the 5 children to start saving for college. She is overwhelmed and very grateful for all the support.”
So far, just under $40,000 has been raised.
“She had a lot of people who loved her,” Frazier told CNN of Stratton. “She loved her kids, her family, God. She loved life. She was just that kind of person.”
Do pray for these dear kids as they grieve the loss of this dedicated mom.