’Unspeakable heartbreak’: Mother dies in California house fire saving four of her children

Woman dies in house fire trying to save four children

BAKERSFIELD, CA (KERO/CNN) - Friends and neighbors are devastated after a mother of five died trying to save her children in a house fire in California.

Kristina Stratton's home went up in flames Thursday night, but four children who were there managed to get out safely.

Her pastor and family friend Angelo Frazier called her a “great personality” who had a big spirit.

“Very bubbly. When she walked in the room you knew she was there,” he said.

The 38-year-old was known as someone who would do anything for her five children, ranging in ages from 7 to 18.

Frazier said that is exactly what she did as her home went up in flames.

"She went into the home late last night to try to save her kids,” he said.

Frazier said four of the kids were inside the home at the time of the fire, and Stratton was unable to get them out.

But her desperate calls alerted them to the danger, and helped them get out.

He said the children were upstairs, and as they heard her scream from downstairs, they jumped from the second story window and escaped.

When kern county firefighters arrived on scene they were unable to rescue Stratton.

A neighbor caught video of the home engulfed in flames.

"It was a really bad blaze,” said Nicholas Grant, the neighbor. “I heard crackling from my from my backdoor. You could actually feel the heat from the fire, all the way from the house."

Family and friends sorted through what little remains the next day.

"It is just unspeakable heartbreak to have to do something like that when you lose a loved one, so you can imagine the raw emotions that are there,” Frazier said.

Frazier said just three years ago, Stratton lost her husband to cancer.

Now in the face of more adversity, those who knew her remember her as a hero.

"Kristina loved life, she loved doing things, she loved being involved, she loved Bakersfield,” he said.

Stratton's children only suffered minor to moderate injuries, and are already of the hospital.

Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the blaze.

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