Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update, May 23, 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:  ~4,131 acres                           Cause:  Lightning

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass

Resources:  One Interagency Hotshot Crew, one ten-person Handcrew, one ten-person Wildfire Module, and one Type 3 Helicopter.

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. The change in acreage is primarily due to the ability to do an aerial reconnaissance flight and more accurate mapping. There has been fire growth on the northwest side of the fire and some light activity on the southern perimeter. The plan for today includes continuing with direct handline and scouting opportunities for indirect holding features to confine and contain within the trail system.  Firefighters will begin structure protection at White Creek Cabin.

The fire transitioned 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 role on the landscape. Values at risk are the White Creek Cabin and sensitive aquatic species in the Gila Wilderness.

Safety:  There are Wilderness trails in the vicinity of the fire.  Trail #153 (Mogollon Trail), #155 (Turkey Creek) and Trail #158 (Sycamore). There are no trail closures at this 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.)

Weather: The warm and drying trend continues for the Sunday as relative humidity values drop and winds will be just below critical red flag thresholds.

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.

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