Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 4, 2021

Friday, June 4, 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: 216                        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, light precipitation fell over the fire area slowing growth potential. The fire has moved into burned areas of last year’s Cub Fire.  Fire slowly advanced into Sycamore and Mogollon Creek Canyons.  The areas on eastern side of the fire backed toward the Good Fire scar.  Firefighter’s efforts to protect the historic White Creek Cabin has been successful. Preparation activities to secure control lines along EE Canyon Trail #163 area continued.  Today, hose lays and pumps for control efforts are being staged in EE Canyon for the anticipated burn-out operations.  Firefighters will continue to monitor the fire growth potential on the northeastern sections, whereas the southern edge will be monitored by support from air resources.  The Structure Protection Group continues to assess structures around the Gila Cliff Dwellings Contact Center and Gila Visitor Center to prepare a structure protection plan.

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. Values at risk are the White Creek Cabin and sensitive aquatic species in the Gila Wilderness.

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

ANNOUNCEMENT:  The National Park Service is closing the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument effective 8:00 a.m. Saturday, June 5, 2021 and shall remain in effect until rescinded.  The Cliff Dwellings are being closed while fire managers implement a burn-out operation for the Johnson Fire. 

WEATHER: Shower and thunderstorm activity is expected to exist south and southeast across the fire area capable of producing hail, followed by gusty and erratic winds.  Overnight relative humidity recovery will increase.  Saturday is expected to be warmer and drier.

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),Gila Center (Unit #1075) and in Cliff, NM (Unit #1074) 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 as well as the Middle Fork Trail #157 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.  For further information please call 575-536-2250 (M-F 8:00 – 4:00 p.m.) or 575-519-0103.

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