HUDSON, Colo. (CBS4) – The owner of an animal sanctuary in Hudson has filed a lawsuit against some off-duty deputies accused of starting a fire. A blaze broke out on residential land that was in use as a firing range near 144th Avenue and Cavanaugh Road on March 23, 2018.
The firing range neighbors the home of Maxine Mager, owner of Creative Acres, a nonprofit organization that provides no-kill and free-roam sheltering for horses, sheep and geese, among other animals.
Mager filed the lawsuit in Adams County Court Wednesday, seeking compensation for emotional damage and loss of property.
She said more than 20 animals who made it out of the fire alive died days later from smoke inhalation. Mager received treatment for the condition as well.
“I had to go to the hospital. And I had smoke inhalation. I couldn’t breathe. (I had) chest pains,” Mager told CBS4’s Melissa Garcia.
Investigators did not file any criminal charges against the four Adams County deputies named in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit complaint claims the deputies and the firing range landowners should have known that shooting in dry and windy conditions could have caused a fire.
According to a sheriff’s office spokesperson, two of the named deputies are no longer with the department for reasons that are unrelated to the fire.
The blaze quickly burned nearly 300 acres, scorching some of the pastures, fencing, feed and supplies.
Replacing the loss will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, Mager said. Until the fence is fixed, sanctuary animals are enclosed in a smaller space.
The damage, she said, is preventing her from taking in some of the sick and soon-to-be homeless animals who need her help.
“It’s not just affected my organization. We’re the only no-kill free-roam animal sanctuary. So, what it affects is the community,” Mager said. “I get so many people calling me. And most of my animals come from people who are dying. And I can’t help them as much as I would like to.”
Of the deputies whose contact information was publicly available, CBS4 was able to reach one of them, who had no comment.
Mager was hoping for donations to help rebuild and restock.