TWELVE-year-old Semi Leweniqila is a hero.
He saved 17 people from a fire that destroyed a three-bedroom house in Tuatua outside Labasa Town last Friday.
The Class Six student of Labasa Sangam Primary School said fire safety lessons taught at school by fire officers flashed across his mind the minute he got up on his bed and saw his siblings lying on the floor.
"One of the lessons I learnt was to get everyone out of the house, so I woke all my three siblings up and told them to go out," Semi said.
"A cousin of mine has a leg problem and she struggled to get up, so I dragged her outside while keeping as low as possible as I made my way to the door. I ran back inside and woke the adults and we all ran outside. I also got hold of suitcases full of clothes and threw them out with other housing material."
Recalling that dreadful morning, the Kia Island lad from Macuata said he was sleeping with his siblings when he initially felt the heat beside his bed.
He was in bed at 4.45am and only realised something was wrong when he tried to cover himself with a blanket. That was when he felt the heat.
His relatives had just returned from a ceremony in Udu Point.
"Even though we failed to recover most of the items, I am glad I saved my family," he said.
"I am grateful that fire safety tips I learned from school through the National Fire Authority were able to save my family."
Two proud fire officers — Krishnil Chand and Joeli Vakatulala — who visited Semi's school to hold the awareness program last year were with the young hero yesterday.
"I remember seeing his face in school when we went there for the awareness program," said Mr Chand as he proudly patted Semi on the back.
As part of their community outreach program, fire officers visited schools in Labasa.
Proud dad Savenaca Mara said Semi was indeed a hero.
"If it wasn't for his heroic act, some of our relatives would not be alive today," Mr Mara said.
"We are proud of him because he was calm and courageous even though he is still a child.
"I also thank NFA for their awareness program as my son was able to implement whatever he learned to save his relatives."