Teenager a village hero after saving infant from fire

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Ho Thi Than, staying at home to nurse her one-year-old baby, was fast asleep when her house caught fire.

Woken up by the suffocating heat and smoke, she rushed out in panic. Then she realized her baby was still in the house and rushed back, only to see a young boy holding her baby and kicking on the back door to get out.

Hearing their screams, other villagers rushed to help. Just as the boy and the baby got out of the house, the roof collapsed.

It was a providential escape because the wooden house with a thatched roof was located in the remote Khe Me Village in the midst of a vast rubber plantation in the north-central province of Quang Tri.

The incident happened almost a month ago, on April 20, but the bravery of 13-year-old Ho Van Ban, who belongs to the Van Kieu ethnic minority, has moved the villagers so much they are still talking about it.

The eighth grade student of the Linh Thuong Secondary School in Gio Linh District had gone to Than's house to buy canned milk that she sells at home when he saw the fire, Ban told Thanh Nien.

"I was taught at school that children should not come close to fire but when I heard the baby cry, I rushed into the fire to save her.

"I was a bit scared because the heat burned my skin and smoke brought tears to my eyes."

Ban's shoes and bicycle were also burned in the fire.

Ho Van Bien, who was working in the fields when the house caught fire, said his daughter had narrowly escaped death thanks to Ban.

"Our family is so grateful. From now on, we will treat Ban like our child," he said.

Ban's heroism is now spoken of in glowing terms by locals.

One of them told Thanh Nien, "He was as fast as a falcon and as bold as a tiger."

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