Young mother dies rescuing sons from fire: ‘She was a hero’

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. -- A 25-year-old mother died trying to save her sons from their burning apartment in Oklahoma City this week.

Donna Burrell ran into her burning apartment trying to rescue four-year-old Zeus, 18-month-old Tee'Shawn Harding and 8-month-old Deon Harding.

Zeus was eventually rescued by firefighters, but the boy later died at the hospital. Her infant sons survived the blaze.

Zeus and his 2 younger siblings.

Zeus and his 2 younger siblings.

Burrell fought for life at Integris Baptist hospital for two days following the fire. According to the family, she died Wednesday evening.

Her family remembers her huge smile, her larger than life sense humor and her fierce love for her four sons.

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

Donna will be buried with the son she lost.

Her family is not surprised she died trying to save him.

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


When the fire sparked, Donna's fiance, Phillip Harding, was on his way home. He is now raising their two sons without their mom.

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

Donna Burrell and her fiance, Phillip Harding.

Donna Burrell and her fiance, Phillip Harding.

The family says they are 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 said 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.

If you would like to donate to help the Burrell/Harding family, you can donate to their GoFundMe page.