Gila NF: Johnson Fire Update for June 15, 2021

Tuesday, June 15, 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: ~ 73,069                                         Cause:  Lightning   

Vegetation: Ponderosa Pine and Grass                                 Total Personnel: 138                             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 73,069 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. Due to improved visibility last night, better IR mapping occurred to provide more accurate acreage figures.  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, crews mopped up 100 feet within control lines to secure the northeastern corner of the fire in White Rocks Canyon.  Along the northern edge of the fire, firefighters secured and monitored the small burn out areas in the Raw Meat Canyon area to connect control lines with the Cub Fire burn scar.  Burn out operations using Plastic Sphere Dispenser (PSD) from a helicopter occurred south of Mogollon Baldy Lookout.  This operation strengthened structure protection efforts around the lookout.  The fire grew along the southern and western perimeters in Turkey and Mogollon Canyon, with most growth occurring in Sycamore and Bush Canyons.  The Cross Fire saw little growth as the crews mopped up and secured the fire. Today work will continue in White Rocks Canyon to secure firelines.  Structure protection assessments will begin in the Willow Creek subdivision and crews will scout trails in the area for potential fireline locations. The southern and western perimeters will again be monitored by air resources.  

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 with slight chance of isolated thunderstorms in the afternoon.  Chance of precipitation 15%.  Minimum relative humidity 14 to 16 % with overnight relative humidity recoveries to 40-45%.  Southwest winds 8-13 mph with gusts to 23 mph in the late afternoons.

 AIR QUALITY:  Silver City is expected to experience “Good” air quality today. The Gila Cliff Dwellings area and Cliff, NM will see poor smoke dispersal throughout the day. Glenwood, NM will see smoke impacts reach “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” levels today.  The US Hwy 180 corridor from Cliff, NM through Adobe Springs, NM will be impacted by smoke all 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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