TOWNSEND, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Little remains of the house Kristina Kallstrom and her three children lived in - family friend Jaena Headrick got the call around 3:30 Monday morning:
"The house is on fire, the kids are out, but mom did not get out - the roof had collapsed," said Headrick.
Headrick is a teacher's aide at Townsend Elementary School and a Sunday School teacher at Bethel Baptist Church. She said the kids - ages 12, 8 and 5 - took cover in the now burned-out SUV outside their home before fire fighters pulled them to safety.
She said their dad died from a heart attack in August, and now they've lost their mom.
"To have this, it's just tragic. And my heart just breaks for them - words can't even express it," said Headrick.
Headrick said Kallstrom was active in church - often singing and playing the flute, and was going to be in the Christmas cantata.
"Her desire was to be a music teacher and she was just finishing up at Pellissippi State and the head of the music department there told me she had just been accepted at Maryville College," she said.
Neighbors can't believe what happened:
"I think it's very sad, especially now that it's Thanksgiving. And the kids won't have any parents to be with," said Michelle Skinner, who lives up the road.
The children are in state custody, but family members are in town from Atlanta.
Headrick said the Kallstroms had three dogs and two cats - one dog was saved after the fire, and Wednesday afternoon, one of their cats was found, too.
"They needed something happy, they sure did," said Headrick.
A Kallstrom benefit fund has been set up at US Bank for the children.