Local recipient of Carnegie Hero Award in need of community’s help


More than a quarter century ago, a local Bakersfield man put his life on the line, trying to save his neighbor from a house fire.

In the wake of his recent passing, his family is looking to our community to help honor his memory.

Brex Owen jumped into action trying to save his neighbor’s life by pulling him out of a house fire, 27 years ago. 

His courageous act was recognized with a nationwide honor.

“He was brave, he was always brave,” said Diane Elam, Owen’s sister.

Owen acted on impulse when he awoke to screams of terror.

“I really didn’t think about it, I just ran in there,” said Brex Owen.

“He was in his bed, taking a nap, and he kept hearing that someone screamed ‘Brex help me,’” said Elam. 

His neighbor’s house was fully engulfed in flames.Owen didn’t think twice, he risked his own life and ran into the flames to save his friend.

“The man was on fire, he put him out and put him over his shoulder and tried to carry him as far as he could,” said Elam. “Something blew up and Brex ended up putting him down and dragging him the rest of the way.”

Suffering burns himself, Owen’s sister Diane says this wasn’t uncommon for her brother.

“He was always there for people, he had a kind heart,” said Elam.

Owen often displayed a compassion for others around him.

“He fell on hard times and was homeless for a long time, but he helped the homeless while he was there,” said Elam.

“He would give half of his food, what little food he had, to the homeless,” said Elam. “He did what he could for everyone.”

His selfless act was recognized by the Bakersfield Fire Department, which nominated Owen for the prestigious Carnegie Hero Award.

“I knew he would do something like that, but I was so proud for what he did,” said Elam. 

Owen was only 55 when he died of cancer earlier this month and his family wants to honor him with a proper burial

“He didn’t want to be cremated because he was in the fire and so we’re trying to get him buried as best we can,” said Elam.

Owen’s loved ones are reaching out to help a nationally honored hero rest in peace.

“It’s been really hard on our family and we’re just trying to get through it as best we can,” said Elam.

Sadly, the man in the house fire suffered severe burns and died shortly after Owen pulled him out. 

If you are interested in helping out Owen’s family, click here.

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