On August 14, 2016, the power went out when lightning struck the transformer behind 29-year-old Erika Poremski’s home in Baltimore, Maryland.
She didn’t have any flashlights on hand, so she lit a candle in the living room and took out her phone to call the electrical company. When she realized it was dead, she went outside to charge it in her car. That’s when she says she had a “weird feeling” and felt the urge to turn around. When she did, she saw flames.
Panicked, Poremski ran back inside because her then eight-month-old daughter, Viviana, was sleeping upstairs. The candle had fallen, causing her couch and carpet to go up in flames.
“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 said.
Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t reach her daughter. She ran outside, screaming for help.