Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 6, 2021

Sunday, June 6, 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: ~ 41,209                                        Cause:  Lightning   

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass                             Total Personnel: 179                          Containment:  0%

RESOURCES: Three Interagency Hotshot Crews, one ten-person Hand crew, three ten-person Wildfire Modules, three Type 3 Engines, two Type 6 Engines, five Water Tenders, and two Type 3 Helicopters including a short haul medical helicopter and one Type 1 helicopter.  

SUMMARY:  The Johnson Fire is approximately 41,209 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 behavior was moderate throughout most of the fire area.  The northern edge has cooled down considerably.  Most of the fire activity occurred on the southern and southwestern portion of the fire.  Sycamore Creek area saw single tree torching in dense mixed conifers. Crews continued to patrol control lines along the West Fork of the Gila River. Firefighters mopped up the spot fire near Straw Canyon.  Teepee Fire, the new start detected on Friday near Gobbler Creek, continues to smolder with minimal fire activity and is being monitored by aerial observation. Today, crews will patrol control lines along the northern and eastern edges of the fire.  The southern portion of the fire will be monitored by air operations. Control line preparations in EE Canyon continue as fire managers wait for favorable conditions to initiate burn-out operations. 

INCIDENT OBJECTIVES:  Provide for public and firefighter safety and allow fire to play its natural role on the landscape. Utilize Minimum Impact Suppression techniques. Ensure 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, backing, and scattered torching.  

CLOSURES:  The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument is CLOSED effective, June 5, 2021, and the closure shall remain in effect until rescinded.  The Cliff Dwellings are being closed while fire managers implement a burn-out operation for the Johnson Fire.  Due to hazardous fire conditions in the fire 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 call 575-536-2250 (M-F 8:00 – 4:00 p.m.) or 575-519-0103 (any time before 7:00 p.m.)

WEATHER:  Drier air will push into the area throughout the day from the west with much warmer temperatures and breezy afternoons.  Partly cloudy this morning then becoming mostly sunny in the afternoon.  Maximum temperatures 79-84 degrees.  Winds 12-17 mph with gusts to 21 mph.  Maximum relative humidity-10-12 %.  Chance of precipitation is 10%.

AIR QUALITY:  Moderate smoke impacts are being observed in the Cliff and Silver City areas in the late afternoon and evening. Most of this smoke is coming from large wildfires in eastern Arizona.  Smoke will settle in low lying areas overnight, with smokey conditions to improve during the day. Smoke from the Johnson Fire will be visible from NM Highway 15, NM Hwy 35, and US Highway 180. 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.

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