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Local philanthropist Berta Faye Rex injured in house fire

ROBERT MEDLEY Published: June 19, 2009
As fire spread from her garage to her house early Thursday, Berta Faye Rex, 77, got her Labrador retriever, Coal, and her car out of her garage.

She stood in her yard at 12:50 a.m. and watched the fire spread.

Rex, a prominent civic leader recognized this year for helping the community through United Way, wanted to try to put out the fire herself, so she asked her neighbor, Barbara Black, for a fire extinguisher.

Black warned Rex not to try to go back into her house as the firefighters were en route to the home at 11800 Quail Creek Road. Black took Coal to her garage, but Rex was gone by the time she came back.

"She said, ‘I need some help.’ I said, ‘OK, let me go get my husband,’ and I woke him up. I grabbed her dog and put him in the garage,” Black said.

"She apparently had gone back in the house after I had told her not to go back in the house.”

Firefighters found Rex in her kitchen, unconscious but breathing, Battalion Chief Mike Walker said. She explained that she had heard a noise in her garage and found what she thought was a small fire. The fire caused about $154,000 in damage and started near a refrigerator in the garage close to a door into the house.

Rex was taken to Integris Baptist Medical Center in critical condition due to smoke inhalation. has disabled the comments for this article.

Berta Faye Rex

→Received United Way of Central

Oklahoma lifetime achievement award in January.

→Served on Oklahoma City Educare and Smart Start Central Oklahoma boards.

→Married to late John W. Rex,

president of Okla-homa City American Fidelity Assurance Co. He died in 2006.

→Serves on Oklahoma City Philharmonic and Allied Arts boards and on the University of Oklahoma Institute for Breast Health board.

Wait for pros, firefighters say

Oklahoma City Fire Department Deputy Chief Cecil Clay said no one should ever try to put out a house fire before firefighters arrive because of intense heat and smoke.

"Because of modern home construction and contents of our modern homes, there is an enormous amount of plastics and materials that produce a lot more heat in a house fire than, say, 20 years ago,” Clay said. "Those materials put out really toxic gases that can affect your judgment. You don’t realize the affect on your brain when you breathe in hot gas. It can do life-changing damage to your lungs.”


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