Structures Threatened, Evacuations Ordered In Southwest Colorado Wildfire Area
Montrose and Ouray County Evacuations Ordered
The U.S. Forest Service says the Simms Fire was reported in the Ouray Ranger District of the Uncompahgre National Forest. Officials said structures in the fire's path were threatened and a mandatory evacuation order was issued by the Ouray and Montrose County Sheriff just after 6:30 p.m. Thursday for residents between Simms Mesa Road and Government Springs Road as well as Wild Cat Canyon. An evacuation shelter was set up at Ridgway Middle School.
Cause of Fire Under Investigation
Initial reports estimated the size of the fire to be about 370 acres approximately 15 miles south of Montrose. The cause of the fire is under investigation. However, a prescribed burn, which the forest service says was monitored daily, was conducted in the vicinity earlier in the week. It seems likely there is a connection to the prescribed burn, and Thursday's strong winds in western Colorado were a significant contributing factor. Officials had planned to burn only about 200 acres.
Community Comes Together
It's been pretty amazing to watch the interaction of area residents on social media with many people offering evacuation assistance as well as making their land available to those who may need to evacuate livestock. Others were standing by with bags and necessities packed, just in case they needed to evacuate.
Favorable Friday Forecast
Friday's forecast is favorable lower temperatures, higher humidity, and less wind. Fire fighting efforts on the scene included two heavy engines, two Type 6 engines, a fuels crew, a Complex Incident Management team, and Multi-mission aircraft, with additional crews, ordered and in route.
We expect to have an update on the status of the fire from the U.S. Forest Service at some point Friday morning.