Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 9, 2021

Wednesday, June 9, 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: ~ 45,551                                        Cause:  Lightning   

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass                             Total Personnel: 144                          Containment:  3%

RESOURCES: Two 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 which includes a short haul medical helicopter and one Type 1 helicopter.  

SUMMARY: The Johnson Fire is approximately 45,551 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 Tuesday evening. The suppression strategy for this fire is confine and contain. Yesterday the fire remained active primarily along the southern and southwestern perimeters. Most of the movement occurred in the drainage bottoms of Turkey and Sycamore Canyons where more continuous fuels were available to burn.  White Rocks Canyon on the northeastern corner of the fire continued to have moderate activity. Crews patrolled control lines on the northern section of the fire along the West Fork of the Gila River. The Tepee fire showed minimal activity and was monitored from the air.  Today crews will monitor fire activity in the White Rocks Canyon area whereas the southern and western perimeters will be monitored by aerial reconnaissance.  An Interagency Hotshot Crew will travel to Miller Springs Cabin to begin a burn-out operation to protect the cabin. 

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 prepare for a burn-out operation for the Johnson Fire. Light Feather and Jordan Hot Springs, along with the Middle Fork Trailhead, 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: Mostly sunny with areas of smoke in the morning and early afternoon.  0% chance of precipitation.  Southwest winds 8 to 13 mph with gusts to 20 mph. Nighttime relative humidity recovery will only be 17% with minimum relative humidity 7 to 8%

AIR QUALITY: Mimbres, Silver City and Cliff NM are expected to experience “Good” air quality today. The Gila Cliff Dwellings will be the primary area of concern today, where light to moderate smoke impacts are expected throughout the day. Smoke will settle in low lying areas overnight in the Glenwood area, with smoky 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-Mimbres (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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