On August 14th last year, Erika Poremski experienced both a tragedy and a miracle. On that sad night, the Baltimore family had an unexpected brutal home fire.
Erika had put her daughter, 8-month-old Viviana, to sleep. Viviana and their dog Polo were asleep on the second floor of the home when lightning hit the electrical box and the house lost power.
Erika called her neighbors to talk about the loss of power, also using her phone as a flashlight (she couldn’t find one in the house). When her phone battery got low, she went out to the car to recharge it.
At one point, Erika turned back to look at her house and saw that it was on fire.
The moment she realized what was happening was terrifying for Erika. She ran to the house, where she could see through the window that her daughter’s room was on fire. Despite trying over and over again, thick black smoke and fierce flames prevented Erika from being able to get to Viviana.
“I tried to keep getting in,” she told CBS News. “She was up the stairs, but the fire smoke was so heavy I couldn’t get past it… I kept running back out and back in, trying to get up there. Then, the door curling started falling and I couldn’t get back in.”
Erika suffered burns on her hands and face while trying to get to her daughter. She said she was so desperate to get to Viviana that she didn’t “see all the skin was off my hand from grabbing the rail and it melted off.”
According to Erika, the dog Polo, had the chance to get downstairs, but chose to stay near the baby, to shield her from the flames with his body. Polo and Viviana were very close. Polo did not survive the fire. When the firefighters arrived and got to the child, they found the dog covering her with his body.
Miraculously, not only did the baby survive, but she only had burns on her arms and side (the wounds are serious but not life threatening). Things could have been much, much worse.
Erika believes Polo sensed that something was up well before the fire started. “That day of the fire, he was acting weird all day,” said Erika. “I even told a friend I was going to take him to vet. He was crying and following me around and had a seizure from anxiety.” Erika has reflected on her love for Polo. “He was everything to me along with my daughter,” she said. “I’m losing everything I love in the blink of an eye. I feel like I’m drowning and can’t get out.”
The Poremski family has started a GoFundMe Page to help pay for the little girl’s medical bills, and to help the family find a new home.