A Baltimore family is now coping with the devastating loss of both their home and an extraordinary family member following a sudden house fire on August 14.
Erika Poremski said she had just stepped out the door to walk to her car when she looked back to see her home engulfed in flames. Her daughter, Viviana, and the family dog, Polo, were both trapped inside the burning house, and Erika could hear Viviana’s cries outside.
Erika said that as soon as she heard Viviana and saw what was going on, she tried reentering the house to rescue her baby and Polo. Unfortunately, the fire had already spread through the house by that point.
She opened the door and ran into the house multiple times, trying to reach the upstairs area to rescue her daughter, but the heavy smoke made it impossible. Eventually, the extreme heat caused the door to buckle, which blocked Erika from reentering the home. She later realized that the heat from the railing had melted the skin off of her hands.
Neighbors who saw what was happening also tried to find a way into the home, kicking in doors and windows, but the flames had grown so rapidly that no one was able to enter the upstairs area until first responders arrived.
Eventually, firefighters managed to rescue Viviana from the burning building, but Polo did not survive.
Firefighters told Erika that they found Polo in the room with Viviana, covering her with his body and shielding her from the worst of the flames.
Erika, whose injuries included burns to her face and hands, tried to hold back tears when speaking to local news station WBAL about the tragedy and Polo’s heroic act.
“So, [because Polo covered Viviana], nothing got to her. And he just stayed there. She only had burns on her side because of it. And he stayed with her the whole time in the bedroom, and he wouldn’t even come downstairs to get out the door.”
According to Erika, Polo had been behaving strangely on the day of the fire, displaying signs of severe unease.
“[He] was acting weird all day,” she said. “I even told a friend I was going to take him to [the] vet. He was crying and following me around and had a seizure from anxiety.”
Although Polo’s selfless act undoubtedly saved Vivian’s life that day, the surviving family members still face an uphill battle. Erika is now coping with the death of her dog, the destruction of her home, and the injury of her child, who remains in the intensive care unit.
“[Polo] was my first baby, [. . .] and I lost him, and I’m just praying I don’t lose her,” she said. “She’s all I have, and it just happened so fast. I just don’t understand it.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the Poremski family.