FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Two pro football players who used to play at Colorado State University are among those named in a lawsuit filed by a couple who lost their home in the Crystal wildfire.
The fire burned 3,000 acres and 13 homes, including Kelly O’Donnell and Curt Busby’s home, west of Fort Collins in April.
“It was still 5 miles away so we thought we had some time to pack some of our stuff but it came 5 five miles in like 20 minutes,” Busby said.
Now the couple is suing the man who’s charged with starting the fire, Thomas Howie, and the five owners of the property where Howie was doing yard work, including two former CSU Rams football players who are now in the NFL — Houston’s Joel Dreessen and Buffalo’s Erik Pears. The lawsuit says Dreessen and Pears employed the accused arsonist, although Dreessen told the Fort Collins Coloradoan that’s not true.
“He’s never been hired as an employee by any of us. He is the son of one of the owners, and that’s his only relationship to us,” Dreessen said.
The lawsuit claims the property where the fire started was run as a business, but the Texans’ tight end told the paper it’s just a personal retreat for family and friends.
“I’m very saddened and had nothing to do with (the fire), and I hope that people understand that,” Dreessen said.
O’Donnell and Busby didn’t have insurance. Their lawsuit says only that they want a jury to hear the suit and they’re seeking more than $100,000 in damages.
On the phone the attorney for the couple wouldn’t comment on the lawsuit or say how much money they’ll eventually seek for the damage, physical and emotional, caused by the Crystal fire.
Howie is also facing a felony charge of fourth-degree arson. A conviction could mean prison time.