Pregnant mother dies trying to save her toddler from house blaze

Tragic Elizabeth and Nathaniel
Tragic Elizabeth and Nathaniel

A pregnant US mother has died after trying to rescue her toddler from their burning home.

Philadelphia woman Elizabeth Perez ran into her house in a desperate bid to save her two-year-old boy Nathaniel but died along with the child after they were overwhelmed by smoke and flames.

The tragedy unfolded in the Fairhill neighbourhood in the city at about 4am local time on Friday morning.

Ms Perez initially escaped the inferno with other relatives she ran back inside when she realised little Nathaniel was missing.

The mother, who was eight months pregnant, was found by emergency respondents holding the child near a second-floor bedroom doorway.

"It's not a pretty sight," Philadelphia Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer told NBC Philadelphia, "her holding her child in her arms trying to get back out."

"She was desperately trying to get out," he added.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation, but officials revealed the home had no working smoke detectors.

One of five heaters found throughout the house may have ignited a blanket, according to investigators.