BALTIMORE, Md. -- A dog gave his life protecting an 8-month-old from a fire in Baltimore late Sunday, firefighters said.
The girl is alive, thanks to an act of heroism and a heart-breaking loss for her family.
Erika Poremski, the child's mother, said she had quickly stepped out to her car when she turned around to find the house in flames and her daughter, Viviana, inside.
"I just heard her crying, and I couldn't get to her," Poremski said. "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."
Poremski had burns on her hands and face from when she repeatedly tried to go back into the house to rescue Viviana.
Firefighters said when the entered the home to rescue Viviana, they found Poremski's dog, Polo, in the room with her, and he was covering her with his body.
"She only had burns on her side because of it," Poremski said. "He stayed with her the whole time in the bedroom and wouldn't even come downstairs to get out the door."
Paramedics were able to revive Viviana, who has severe burns on her face, arm and side, but Polo did not survive the fire.
"He was my first baby and now I lost him," Poremski said. "And I'm just praying I don't lose her. She's all I have and it just happened so fast, I just don't understand it. I just don't know why this stuff happens."
Poremski said she is extremely grateful for the support she has received. A friend set up a GoFundMe page for the daughter's medical care. It has raised more than $19,000.
No other injuries were reported but the family was displaced by the fire, Johnson said.
Poremski said her daughter's condition is still serious and will be monitored day to day.
"She's doing the best she can right now," Poremski said. And she's fighting and that's it. She's a really good girl I just hope she's OK."
WBAL reports that firefighters say the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Dog dies after protecting baby from fire