TAMPA — Authorities were investigating an early Sunday morning apartment fire that claimed the life of the woman who lived there.
Two people were inside the apartment near Temple Terrace around 5:30 a.m. when the fire started, according to Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office Detective S. Appel.
A man escaped the fire and did not need to be hospitalized, he said.
The state fire marshal was investigating the fire, which was at 12211 N 59th St.
Family members identified the woman who died as 37-year-old Katrina Colbert. They said her dog, Midnight, also died in the fire.
Colbert's father, 57-year-old Michael Colbert, said he had picked her up Saturday from her job at a painting company, taking her to buy shoes for her niece and then to a salon.
"My baby, she was sweet," he told the St. Petersburg Times. "She just got her foot planted."
Her family said Katrina Colbert had a troubled past: She got in a lot of fights, according to her aunt, and did drugs.
But she had decided to straighten out, said her aunt, 59-year-old Tina Felton. The changes were noticeable — so great, Felton said, that at first she didn't recognize the new Colbert.
She had gained weight. She put on makeup and got her nails done. She went to church.
"Auntie, see what the Lord can do for you?" Felton remembered her saying while striking a pose.
Colbert had four children, though none of them lived with her, Felton said.
"She wasn't a perfect person," Felton said, "but she was darn good."
Times researcher Natalie Watson contributed to this report. Stephanie Wang can be reached at email@example.com or (813) 661-2443.