Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputy rescues dogs from smoky fire inside trailer

An Arapahoe County sheriff’s deputy on Tuesday night entered an RV that was on fire to rescue several dogs that were trapped in the burning residence.

At about 7:15 p.m. Tuesday, Deputy Nicholas Collins and his partner, Zach Newell, pulled up to the RV and saw heavy smoke streaming from the mobile home trailer in the 900 block of Perth Street in unincorporated Arapahoe County. The resident of the trailer was at work and was not home at the time.

“Smoke was coming out of every window in the RV,” Collins said. “I could hear the dogs screaming inside.”

Collins attempted to go into the RV, but the smoke wouldn’t allow it and he couldn’t breath. Collins ran back to his patrol car to grab a gas mask.

“I knew it’s not designed for (fire) smoke, but I knew it would protect my eyes,” Collins said.

Meanwhile, Newell rescued a dog, a husky, who had its head out a window and was struggling for air. Newell pulled the dog to safety from the window.

Inside the RV, Collins, working his way through smoke and struggling to breathe, found two more huskies that were unconscious. He carried one to the door and handed the dog off to Newell. Collins then went back in and grabbed the second dog and carried it out. He also coaxed another dog, who was skittish and frightened, to scramble out of the trailer.

Collins, who has been with the sheriff’s office since June 2020, has a dog of his own: a 5-year-old German Shepherd named Apollo. He’s had the dog since it was 10 weeks old.

“He’s my best friend,” Collins said. “I was living through my worst nightmare, of him (Apollo) suffering while I was gone. I would want someone to do the same (rescue) for my dog. ”

Chief Rich Solomon, of Sable Altura Fire Rescue, was on scene Tuesday night. Firefighters arrived after the deputies, who had been close by on a prior call.

“It was amazing,” Solomon said of Collins rescue response. “I know what those conditions must have felt like for him. It’s something inherent in an individual, it can’t be taught. He’s that kind of individual you want on the streets.”

Emergency responders used an ambulance to take some of the dogs to the Alameda East Veterinary Hospital.

There were six dogs in the trailer, one was not found during the rescue and died on the scene, according to the sheriff’s office. One of the dogs taken to the hospital also died.

The fire was sparked by an electrical outlet near a bedroom, Solomon said. The trailer is a complete loss and uninhabitable.

On Wednesday, Collins, who served in the U.S. Navy as a corpsman for eight years, including two deployments to Afghanistan, was a bit labored in his breathing. He showed up for his work shift.

“I’m still coughing a little bit, my lungs hurt, but I’ll be all right,” he said.

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