Gila NF:Johnson Fire Update-May 29,2021

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: ~23500 acres                                         Cause: Lightning

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass

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

Summary: The Johnson Fire is approximately 23,500 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.  Overall fire behavior is moderate, with some wind driven runs, backing, and flanking in most areas of the fire. Yesterday, crews continued to hold and improve fireline in Raw Meat Canyon and the West Fork Gila River. Prior Cabin and other cultural sites have been prepped in case of fire activity. The plan for today is to continue to hold and improve fireline on the West Fork Gila River, and Trail Creek Canyon. In addition, contingency resources are assessing long term actions, and beginning prep in EE canyon for future operations.

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 indicated on the Trails to Avoid map on Inciweb. 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.)

Announcement:  NM State Highway 152 is open for through traffic for the weekend but may be closed in the future as needed for safety.

Weather: A drying trend will continue today with warm temperatures and critical relative humidity dropping into the single digits. West winds are expected to be 5-15 mph, with gusts up to 20 mph in the afternoon. Little change is expected going into the weekend.

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. Smoke monitors have been placed at Gila Center, Lake Roberts, and the Wilderness Ranger District to assess smoke impacts,

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