Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 3, 2021

Thursday, June 3, 2021

Visit the New Mexico Fire Information website at


Fire Phone 575-519-0103


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: ~ 38,225                                       Cause:  Lightning   

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass                           Total Personnel: 207                        Containment:  0%

Resources: Three Interagency Hotshot Crews, one ten-person Hand crew, three ten-person Wildfire Modules, three Type 3 Engines, three Type 6 Engines, five Water Tenders, and two Type 3 Helicopters including a short haul medical helicopter.  

SUMMARY: The Johnson Fire is approximately 38,225 acres and is burning in the Gila Wilderness on the Gila National Forest. The suppression strategy for this fire is confine and contain. Yesterday fire activity moderated as the fire received spotty rain showers. Crews continued to patrol along the West Fork Trail #151 as it moved into last year’s Cub Fire scar. Firefighters completed fireline preparation on Trails #151, #163 and #162 in anticipation of burn-out operations to occur later this week. The structure protection group completed protection of archeological sites up Cliff Dweller Canyon.  Positioning of hose lays and pumps occurred at the Gila Cliff Dwellings Contact Center. Today firefighters will monitor fire activity along the western edge of the fire.  Structure protection work continues around White Creek Cabin and additional work will continue to prepare firelines for the anticipated burn-out in EE Canyon. The structure protection group continues prep work around the Gila Visitor Center.

INCIDENT OBJECTIVES:  Provide for public and firefighter safety and allow fire to play its natural role on the landscape. Utilize Minimum Impact Suppression techniques. Insure information is accurate and timely regarding closures and planned fire operations. Protect values at risk at White Creek Cabin and sensitive aquatic species in the Gila Wilderness.

FIRE BEHAVIOR: Moderate fire activity, with flanking and backing throughout.  

WEATHER: Increasing cloud buildup throughout the day will lead to thunderstorm activity in the vicinity of the fire. Winds are expected to be 6-10 mph with gusts up to 18 mph.  Each day this week, clouds should increase, with chances of thunderstorms.  A drying trend looks to begin by Sunday with much warmer and drier conditions next week.

AIR QUALITY:  Moderate smoke impacts may be observed in low lying areas overnight, with periods of light to moderate smoke during the day. 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 the Wilderness Ranger District (Unit #1073), Lake Roberts (Unit #1074), the Gila Center (Unit #1075), and in Cliff, NM (Unit #1054) to assess smoke impacts, and can be viewed at

Please see the New Mexico Department of Health site also known as 5-3-1, for 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.

SAFETY:  Due to hazardous fire conditions in the area, the West Fork Gila River trail network is CLOSED to visitor use until further notice. Visitors are warned to keep off these trails for their personal safety and to not impede the work of firefighters managing the fire. The Middle Fork of the Gila River Trail #157 is open to DAY-USE ONLY.  For further information please call 575-536-2250 (M-F 8:00 – 4:00 p.m.) or 575-519-0103 (any time before 9:00 p.m.) The Gila National Forest is currently under Stage 1 Fire Restrictions, including the use of charcoal grills. Use of pressurized fuel devices with an on/off switch are acceptable. 

For more information visit the Gila National Forest website under Alerts and Notices.

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