MAGDALENA, N.M. (KRQE) – The U.S. Forest Service has fire lookout towers spread across the state – staffed and on the lookout for wildfires. The Forest Service has two fire lookouts within the Bear Trap Fire area, the Mount Withington Lookout built in the 50s, and the Grassy Mountain Lookout built in the 60s.
“I was the one that saw the fire and called it in, it was initially about five acres,” said Kelsey Sims.
Sims was staffing one of the lookouts when she first spotted the Bear Trap Fire on May 1, just miles away from her tower. She knew she had to act fast.
“It was in some heavy timber, so it just had the right winds and formula to move fast,” said Sims.
Not long after she called in the fire, she had to evacuate from her tower. “I had five minutes to pack – grab my dog, grab the essentials,” said Sims. That very next day she hopped on the fire line.
Not only working to save her tower but everything around it. “We were able to save the historical structures and my tower, so that was a good thing but it was definitely nervewracking,” said Sims.
She spent nine days on the fire line and is assigned to an engine but until they need her, she is staffing a different tower once a week.
“Kinda doing a bit of everything right now but primarily, I am on an engine for now,” said Sims.
She’s looking forward to getting back to her tower once it’s safe.
“With the fires in the Gila and everything as well, there’s just been so much smoke up there that the visibility has been almost nothing,” said Sims.
She’s ready to spot whatever comes next.