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Tzvia Rivan, whose 16-years-old son Elad perished in the Carmel forest fire on Thursday, could not bring herself to speak yesterday. She sat down and wrote instead: "A quality kid. This is how heroes fall."

Rivan, a volunteer fireman, died fighting the fire that engulfed the bus carrying the Prison Service cadets. He knew that according to the regulations, he was too young to be out at the forest fire, but he liked the action, and couldn't resist the urge. When he saw the smoke rising over the mountain, he called his mother and asked her to bring him his fireman uniform to school. He then rushed to the scene of the blaze, where he joined a team of firefighters from Afula. Although the circumstances are not yet fully clear, the team apparently was soon trapped in the flames.

As a student at the Reali High School in Haifa, Rivan had been volunteering as a fire scout for more than a year. The Fire Scouts provides students with training for putting out small-scale fires. Some 70 students volunteer in Haifa, and Avi Cohen, who is in charge of volunteers at the Haifa fire station, remembers Rivan as the most enthusiastic one. Rivan would drop in by the station every day, eager to go out to any fire that was going on, Cohen said.

On Thursday, it was hours before Rivan's parents knew something was amiss. At first, they thought he was busy putting out the fire, and the media did not carry reports of injured firefighters. In the evening, when he didn't come home, they went out to look for him. At 3 A.M., firemen arrived at their home to tell them their son was missing. His body was finally found on one of the slopes of the Carmel, but was only identified after considerable efforts by the forensic specialists.

"He was a hero of a kid who ran to the fire, instead of running from the fire," his mother wrote yesterday.