When a bad storm knocked out power in her home in August 2016, Erika Poremski did what most would do—she lit a candle. She then made a phone call to try and figure out the situation with the electricity, but her phone suddenly died.
Since her home was still without power the only way to charge it was from her car, so she quickly ran outside. While outside she turned around to face her home and discovered something horrific, her home was on fire and her 8-month-old daughter and beloved dog were inside.
Poremski lived in the home with her daughter Viviana and dog, Polo.
The mother immediately attempted to enter her home, but was met with intense smoke.
“I tried to keep getting in. She was up the stairs, but the fire smoke was so heavy I couldn’t get past it …” Poremski told CBS News. “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.”
Poremski injured herself while trying to rescue her daughter—the skin on her hands melted away when she grabbed the railing inside her home—but in the moment she didn’t even notice. She was focused on her daughter.
She, as well as neighbors, made several attempts to reach Viviana.
“I just heard her crying and I couldn’t get to her,” Poremski told WBAL. “I tried really hard, everyone in the neighborhood tried. They were kicking the doors in and kicking the windows out. I couldn’t (get her out). Nobody could.”
Finally, firefighters arrived and they were able to break into the house and rescue Viviana.
When they brought the 8-month-old out from the burning building they were able to revive her. They also had some bittersweet news for Poremski.
Firefighters were able to rescue Viviana, but Polo wasn’t so lucky.
While rescuers were able to revive Poremski’s daughter, her “first baby” didn’t make it.
Firefighters informed her that when they found Viviana, Polo was on top of her little body. Poremski’s dog had sacrificed himself to save his human sister.
Although Viviana suffered burns to her face and side, everyone believed the burns weren’t as bad as they could have been thanks to Polo’s heroic act. Tragically that last act cost him his life.
Over a year after the fire Viviana continues to put up a fight to survive.
Following the fire the little girl’s condition was listed as serious and doctors monitored her progress day to day.
Now, more than a year after the devastating fire, 2-year-old Viviana’s condition continues to improve, though there have been many trying moments along the way.
The family set up a GoFundMe account to help Poremski and Viviana in any way possible.