Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update – May 30, 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: ~26446 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 26,446 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. Yesterday, crews continued to hold and improve fireline in Trail Creek Canyon and the West Fork Gila River. Additionally, crews scouted the lower West Fork Gila River and EE Canyon for future operations. The plan for today is to continue prepping the trail in EE Canyon, and to hold and secure fire as it moves towards the West Fork Gila River. Crews will start prep around White Creek Cabin to minimize fire behavior on the western edge of the fire.

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 in 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 will be in the future as needed for safety. For updated information visit: New Mexico Department of Transportation at

Weather: Very dry conditions will remain in place through the weekend, with relative humidity falling to single digits in the afternoon hours. Southwest winds are expected to be 10 to 15 mph and should allow smoke to disperse to the northeast. Thunderstorm chances increase on Monday and may continue through the week ahead with better relative humidity recoveries and west breezes.

Smoke/Air Quality: Moderate smoke impacts may be observed in low lying areas overnight, with periods of light to moderate smoke during the day. 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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