Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 14, 2021

Monday, June 14, 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: ~ 65, 289                                         Cause:  Lightning   

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass                                 Total Personnel: 150                             Containment:  11%

RESOURCES: Three Interagency Hotshot Crews, one twelve-person hand crew, one ten-person Wildfire Module, one twenty-person Initial Attack crew, five Type 6 Engines, four Water Tenders, two Type 3 Helicopters which includes short haul medical equipment, and one Type 2 Helicopter.

SUMMARY:  The Johnson Fire is approximately 65,289 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 Sunday 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’s overcast skies and intermittent rain slowed fire activity from the previous day. Firefighters continued their efforts in mopping up hot spots on the northeast corner in White Rock Canyon area. In Raw Meat Canyon on the north side, fire crews burned out small pockets of available fuels pushing the fire into the Cub Fire burn scar. Firefighters completed a successful burn out operation last night around Mogollon Baldy Lookout. The Cross Fire, north of the main fire, grew to approximately two acres.  Crews worked to complete a fireline around the fire and began mop up operations. Today fire crews will continue to hold and improve control lines in White Rocks Canyon and mop up areas burned in Raw Meat Canyon. Additional burn out operations using Plastic Sphere Dispenser (PSD) from a helicopter may occur south of Mogollon Baldy Lookout.  This operation will strengthen structure protection efforts around the lookout.   Crews will begin structure assessment in the Willow Creek subdivision area. The southern and western perimeters of the fire 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: Active flanking with creeping and backing.  

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 are closed while fire managers assess fire conditions affecting visitor safety. 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.)  As a reminder “The Celebration Site-Skates area,” Johnson Fire Camp is closed to camping.

WEATHER: Mostly sunny then becoming partly cloudy in the afternoon.  Maximum temperatures 90-95 degrees in higher elevations with 99-103 degrees in lower elevations.  Chance of precipitation 10%, minimum relative humidity 5 to 9 %.   Northeast winds 5 to 9 mph becoming east later in the day.

 AIR QUALITY:  Silver City is expected to experience “Good” air quality today. The Gila Cliff Dwellings area, Cliff, NM, and Glenwood, NM will see poor smoke dispersal in the morning and are expected to stay in the “Moderate” level throughout 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  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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