‘She Was a Hero’: Oklahoma Mom Dies After Rushing Into Burning Building, Rescuing Two of Three Sons

An Oklahoma City mother died from injuries she sustained while trying to rescue her sons from a fire that erupted at their apartment this week.

Donna Burrell, 25, was critically injured while trying to rescue her three young sons, all between the ages of 8 months and 4 years old, from the burning apartment early Tuesday, according to KTLA sister station KFOR.

“It was reported to us that the mother had taken the two infants out first and was on her way back inside to try to get the 4-year-old when she was overtaken by the fire,” said Benny Fulkerson of the Oklahoma City Fire Department.

She managed to save the lives of 18-month-old Tee'Shawn Harding and 8-month-old Deon Harding. Her eldest son, 4-year-old Zeus Moore, was eventually rescued by firefighters, but was pronounced dead at the hospital.

The cause of death was smoke inhalation from the fire, according to KFOR.

Burrell died at hospital on Wednesday evening, one day after her son, according to relatives.

Her family told the station they would remember her for her huge smile, her larger than life sense humor and her fierce love for her sons.

"She was a hero. She was more than I hoped for her to be," said her mother, Katrina Burrell. "I can't express my loss. A mother should never bury her child or her grandchild."

Burrell will be buried with her 4-year-old son.

Her family said they were not surprised she died trying to save him.

"Those two were just alike, her and Zeus. I mean identical - smiling, joyful, happy," said Burrell's sister, Adrina Wann. "People said they tried to stop her from going back in. That was their biggest mistake."

When the fire erupted, Donna's fiance, Phillip Harding, was on his way home.

Harding is now raising their two sons without their mom.

"She was my world," he said of his fiancee. "I feel real lucky that she got these two out. I just wish they all could have gotten out."

The family is drawing on strength from each other as they sort through the details about the fire, rescue and their loss.

"There is comfort knowing they are with God," Katrina said.

Donna was an organ donor; her family says she might save six more lives by the donation of her organs.

They are planning a joint memorial service for Zeus and Donna at Greater Deliverance Church of God in Oklahoma City.

GoFundMe page has been set up to support the family.