Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 10, 2021

Thursday, June 10, 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: ~ 46,790                                        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 46,790 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 Wednesday evening. The suppression strategy for this fire is confine and contain.  In the evening hours the fire will appear both larger and closer than it is due to the inability to reference its size to any physical landmarks. Yesterday, fire activity increased on the southeastern and western perimeters of the fire with Sycamore Canyon seeing the most activity. Fire in White Rocks Canyon experienced modest growth with additional movement into Nat Straw Canyon.  Control lines along the north side saw little or no fire activity. Firefighters completed a burn-out operation around Miller Spring Cabin creating a safety zone around the cabin. Today, firing operations will begin along the Granny Mountain Trail #160 from Granny Saddle, south of Miller Springs Cabin, north toward the Good Fire scar. This is a precautionary measure to reinforce the trail as a control line.  Fire crews will continue to monitor the east side of the fire while the southern and western parts 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 Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, 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: A high pressure system will build over the area bringing abnormally warm temperatures, low humidity, and little chance of rain.  Today, mostly sunny with southwest winds 11-16 mph with gusts to 33 mph, minimum relative humidity 6 to 7%.

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. The area will see poor smoke dispersal in the morning, improving in the afternoon, and returning to poor dispersal again overnight. 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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