Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 8, 2021

Tuesday, June 8, 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: ~ 43,792                                        Cause:  Lightning   

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass                             Total Personnel: 168                          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, six Water Tenders, and two Type 3 Helicopters including a short haul medical helicopter and one Type 1 helicopter.  

SUMMARY: The Johnson Fire is approximately 43,792 acres and is burning in the Gila Wilderness on the Gila National Forest.  The acreage is the most accurate information taken from an infrared (IR) flight on Monday evening. The suppression strategy for this fire is confine and contain. Yesterday the fire increased in size along the southern and western perimeters in Turkey, Sycamore and Langstroth Canyons.  Most activity occurred in Sycamore Canyon where available fuels burned in mixed conifers and Ponderosa pine stands. Fire behavior in Langstroth Creek area slowed as the fire moved into areas with sparser fuels. Fire in White Rocks Canyon continued to creep and smolder whereas the northern edge of the fire along the West Fork of the Gila River has cooled down considerably. Structure protection work began on Miller Springs Cabin, south of the fire area, with the construction of a fireline to surround the cabin. Tepee Fire showed minimal smoke with minimal growth.  Today firefighters will continue to monitor control lines on the northern and eastern edges while the remainder of the fire perimeters will be monitored by aerial reconnaissance. 

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:  Due to hazardous fire conditions in the Johnson Fire area, an Emergency Area Closure order has been issued by the Gila National Forest for public health and safety. A large portion of the Gila Wilderness is CLOSED.  For a copy of the order and maps see: Inciweb:   The Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument remains CLOSED, and the closure shall remain in effect until rescinded.  The Cliff Dwellings is closed while fire managers implement a burn-out operation for the Johnson Fire. Light Feather and Jordan Hot Springs are also included in this closure.  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: Warm and dry weather is expected over the next few days.  Temperatures will be near normal to above normal with 0% chance of precipitation for the next five days.  Light winds southwest 5-15 mph with gusts to 25 mph in the afternoon.  Minimum relative humidity 10% or less with overnight humidity recovery 20-30%.

AIR QUALITY:  Moderate smoke impacts are being observed in  Cliff, NM 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), Gila Center (Unit #1076), Silver City, NM (Unit #1074), Cliff, NM (Unit #1054) and Glenwood, NM (Unit #1075), 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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