Erika Poremski was at home in Baltimore with her dog Polo and her eight-month-old daughter when unimaginable happened: her house caught on fire with her daughter and pooch trapped inside. At the end of that day, Erika’s life would end as she knew it.
A terrible storm had blown in, you see. Lightning struck the transformer behind the single mother’s house, and she lost power. She couldn’t find any flashlights in the house, so she lit a candle in the living room. Her daughter, Viviana, was already tucked into bed upstairs.
She picked up her cell phone and started to make a call to the electric company to notify them of the outage. Her phone died in the middle of the call. Erika decided at that point to go out front and let the phone charge in the car so she could make the call.
When she was outside waiting for her phone to turn back on, Erika said she suddenly felt a “weird feeling.” She turned around and was horrified to see that her house, with her entire family trapped inside, was engulfed in flames.
Once she saw the fire, Erika sprinted into the house at full-speed to attempt to get her babies out of there. She was overwhelmed immediately. The carpets and the couch were on fire. She still tried to get upstairs.
“I was hit with so much smoke,” said Erika. “I took in so much not knowing how bad it was that fast, I ran back out for air then ran back in. I was trying to get upstairs [and] I started instantly burning. My hair started burning off – I grabbed the rail and peeled off all my skin on my hand. [My] face started burning. I was trying to fight the fire and make it up the stairs.”
She couldn’t breathe or see through the smoke, Erika knew she wouldn’t be able to get to them on her own. So she ran outside, screaming for her neighbors to help. She waited in utter agony for the firefighters to show up and get her babies out of the burning house.
She stood there, transfixed and horrified, prepared to hear that her daughter had died in the fire. That was when firefighters came downstairs to let her know what had taken place in that room upstairs.
As the flames engulfed Viviana and Polo, the faithful pup never left the baby’s side. Polo tucked his body around the baby’s left side, protecting her from the flames. By the time rescuers finally brought them back downstairs, Viviana had suffered burns over 20 percent of her body.
But her entire left side was completely untouched by the flames, thanks to Polo’s sacrifice.
“Polo was already gone when they brought Viv out,” Erika said. “He was about to be six, he was my first baby. I miss him so much still.”
It was the candle that Erika had lit, you see, that started the fire. Investigators later learned that it had fallen off the table and caught Polo’s bed on fire.
Viviana was in a coma for quite some time, as the damage from the fire resulted in her brain swelling. She did eventually wake up, though. She may never fully recover from the fire, as the damage was extensive. But her mama cherishes every second she has with her sweet baby, no matter the challenges.
And none of it would be possible if not for one very brave and very heroic dog named Polo.
Erika has a GoFundMe set up to help with medical expenses and after-care. If you want to help out, you can click here.
Feature Image via Bumble