Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update-May 25, 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:  ~7300 acres                          Cause:  Lightning

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass

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

Summary:   The Johnson Fire is approximately 7,300 acres and 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. There has been fire growth on the north, northeast, and south toward Mogollon Creek. Yesterday crews secured fireline in Raw Meat Canyon, sprinkler kits were installed at White Creek Cabin. The plan for today is to continue securing the northwest perimeter and prepare for suppression operations on the West Fork Gila River.  Prior Cabin and cultural sites within the planning area will be assessed for protection actions.

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:  Please avoid travelling the following Wilderness trails: Trail #151 (West Fork Trail) – when coming from the Gila Cliff Dwellings there is no travel past Trail #162 (Ring Canyon);  from the northwest on Trail #151 (West Fork) do not travel past Jackass Park; Trail 164 (Lilley Park) to White Creek;  Trail #153 (Mogollon Trail), #155 (Turkey Creek) and Trail #158 (Sycamore); When travelling west on either Trail #161 (Little Creek) or Trail #162 (Ring Canyon) do not travel past Trail #789 (Little Creek Cutoff). If you are unsure and want to verify where you may go within the boundaries of the Gila Wilderness, please call 575-536-2250 (M-F 8:00 – 4:00 p.m.) or 575-519-0103 (any time before 9:00 p.m.)

Weather: A drying trend will develop today bringing warmer temperatures and critical relative humidity dropping into the single digits. Winds are predicted from the SW with gusts to 28 mph. Low potential for plume dominated fire growth.

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.  A smoke monitor has been placed at Gila Center and Lake Roberts to assess smoke impacts.

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