Gila National Forest: Johnson Fire Update, May 22, 2021

Location: Johnson Canyon,west of McKenna Park.  11 miles west of Gila Cliff Dwellings, Wilderness Ranger District, Catron County, NM

Start Date:  May 20, 2021                           Size:  ~2,200 acres                         Cause:  Lightning

Vegetation:  open ponderosa pine

Resources:  one Interagency Hotshot Crew, one ten-person handcrew and one Type three and one Type one helicopter. A 10-person fire use module is on order and will be arriving today.

Summary:   The Johnson Fire is burning on National Forest System lands on the Wilderness Ranger District, Gila National Forest. The suppression strategy for this fire is confine and contain. Yesterday the fire received moderate precipitation which moderated fire activity and the planned aerial reconnaissance did not occur. The plan for today includes limiting fire spread to the north towards White Creek and the cabin.

The fire will transition to a Type 3 Incident Management Team at 6:00 p.m. on May 22, with Marcus Cornwell as Incident Commander (ICT3) and Aaron Jones as ICT3 trainee.  

Objectives: Provide for public and firefighter safety and allow fire to play its natural roll on the landscape. Values at risk are the White Creek Cabin.

Safety:  There are some trails in the vicinity of the fire.  They are Trail #153 (Mogollon Trail), #155 (Turkey Creek) and Trail #158 (Sycamore). There are no trail closures at this point in time. If you are unsure and want to verify where you may go within the boundaries of the Gila Wilderness, please call 575-526-2250 (M-F 8:00 – 4:00 p.m.) or 575-519-0103 (any time before 9:00 p.m.)

Smoke/Air Quality:  The New Mexico Department of Health site also known as 5-3-1, has good information and  guidance on mitigating your smoke exposure.  Smoke-sensitive individuals and people with respiratory problems are encouraged to take precautionary measures by staying inside during heavy smoke periods and avoiding outdoor activities.  Smoke will visible from NM Highway 15, NM Hwy 35, and US Highway 180, and on the trail system.

Fire information can be found on or on Inciweb at  For information on the Gila National Forest, check out our website.

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