BOISE, Idaho — Two months ago, 8-year-old Aaliyah Shepard was reaching over a counter to grab a drink, when her sequined shirt caught fire.
“I got burned by a candle,” Aaliyah said.
The encounter burned more than 25 percent of Aaliyah’s body and left her with third, fourth and fifth degree burns.
Aaliyah spent the last two months in a Salt Lake City hospital. She and her family just returned home this week, but it hasn't been an easy homecoming. Aaliyah's mom, Tia Simmons, says the fire damaged their home so badly, they've had to throw out most of their belongings and furniture.
“It was so bad, we couldn’t even stay in it for 10 minutes,” Simmons said.
As for Aaliyah, she doesn't remember much about her time in the hospital, which her mom says she's thankful for because there was a lot of pain.
“She has overcome everything the doctors said she wouldn’t be able to, she was able to teach herself to walk again, she’s teaching herself how to write again,” Simmons said.
The road toward recovery for Aaliyah though is far from over. She will now have to do physical therapy every day, three times a day for the next year.
Then when she's 17, doctors can start reconstructing her chest.
Her family is now trying to move because her physical therapy is in Boise.
“She's so strong, she's freaking incredible,” Simmons said. “We went from eight weeks ago she was flat lining, now she's sitting here with us.”
This experience has been made more bearable thanks to the community and people sending her cards of support.
“She got a card from an Army base from a group that actually got caught in an explosion so each of them sent a patch off their uniform for her because all of them had been burned,” Simmons said.
Aaliyah got more than 2,000 cards in the last two months.
The family is planning on holding a ‘welcome home’ party for Aaliyah next weekend, but they're still working out the details. The family wants to thank everyone for all their help and support.
The family has a gofundme page set up.