Expert suspects Vietnam fire girl burns things to get attention

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A Ho Chi Minh City research institute has said it cannot make good on its promise to study a girl reportedly with a paranormal ability to set things on fire by being near them, but expressed skepticism about her alleged powers.

Du Quang Chau, director of the Energy Dowsing Center at the Hong Bang private university, told Phap Luat Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh (HCMC Laws) newspaper that the center can no longer study her case.

Chau, who studied her briefly, said, however: "I think she burns things to catch people's attention."

The 11-year-old, identified only as Thuy, has attained fame after her father went to various media agencies 10 days ago seeking help saying stuff around his daughter kept going up in flames.

Chau's center, whose help was also sought, said earlier that the girl has a rare and "precious" ability that needs to be studied carefully.

But he began to have doubts after meeting the girl, whom he described as smart and active.

"All the burnt items, such as electric boxes, electric fans, heaters, and mattresses, were within her reach.

"As for the lid of the toilet bowl, if the girl could burn it just by sitting on it, the lid should have burned from above, but it happened from below.

"And she was always the one discovering the fires."

She could have used a kind of Chinese lighter whose fire "is very hot and easily burns wood and plastic." The lighters were sold on the streets for VND10,000.

One such lighter was found near one of the fires at her house in Tan Binh District.

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He never saw anything catch fire when he was at her house. The one fire that occurred started when he was not around.

If her family strongly believed she had the ability to cause fires, "they need to seek help from experts in medicine, physics, electricity, chemistry, and such."

News website VnExpress reported that Chau's conclusion has elicited criticism from several scientists who said he cannot arrive at such a conclusion without firm scientific evidence since it would confuse the public and prevent the girl from getting the help she might need.

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