Simms fire: most evacuations lifted as cold, wet weather helps cap burning area

Firefighters have made progress containing the Simms fire about 15 miles southwest of Montrose. Cold, wet weather helped cap its size at 370 acres on Friday. 

It’s now considered 15 percent contained, the fire’s incident management team said in an online update. 

“A half mile of dozer line was completed as well as fire retardant being dropped to create a border around the fire,” the statement said. 

A few residents in the Wildcat Canyon Drainage area are still under an evacuation order, according to the Ouray County Sheriff’s Office. All other orders have been lifted.

The fire broke out Thursday evening in the Uncompahgre National Forest. The Forest Service conducted a controlled burn in the area on Monday with monitoring for the rest of the week. Authorities have not confirmed how the fire started.

After it started, the Simms fire burned in the direction of a Bureau of Land Management prescribed fire treatment, which significantly reduced its intensity and slowed its progression, the incident’s management team said.

Three structures on a mixture of federal forest and private land have been destroyed. At least 10 more uninhabited structures are still under threat, said Carolina Kilva, a public information officer with the incident management team. 

“It is still dangerous even though it may not look as dangerous,” Kilva said. “Firefighters are working on additional structure protection just in case.” 

Rocky Mountain Incident Management Team 1 will assume command of the fire today.