UM Western Football Player Dies in Dillon House Fire

Simkins just finished his junior year at Western and was expected to take on a larger role at safety in his final season

BUTTE — Authorities say a 22-year-old football player at the University of Montana Western has died in a house fire.

The Montana Standard reports Mark Simkins Jr. died at a hospital after the fire broke out at the Dillon home early Tuesday morning. Fire Chief Darrin Morast says it took about half an hour for crews to douse the blaze at the three-bedroom home.

Investigators have not said what caused the fire, which was contained to one room.

Simkins, who graduated from Beaverhead County High School, had just finished his junior year at Western and was expected to take on a larger role at safety in his final season.

His high school football coach, Rick Nordahl, called the death “a heartbreaking loss” for the community.

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